Juan Mata: from The Bridge to the Theatre Of Dreams
José Mourinho pretty much confirmed it already: Juan Manuel Mata really is leaving Chelsea for Manchester United, two and a half years after his arrival at Cobham.
While it seems pretty clear why the Spaniard would want this transfer done - he's played only 17 out of 33 possible games (having started many of those on the bench) and only scored one goal - it's not quite that obvious why Mourinho would want to let him go. Then again, it was never really clear to anyone why Juan Mata wasn't on the Portuguese's first choices this year, either, since Mata is, undeniably, one of the best players in the Premier League as of right now.
Whatever Mourinho's reasons might be, what's almost certain is that the twenty-five year old player will be a Red Devil for the remainder of the season and they couldn't have asked for a better man to help them strenghten their team in this less than good period. Let's imagine a Juan Mata/Adrian Januzaj combination - that is, if David Moyes can get them to play well together - and we realize that United will now have a much better chance of going up the league table than they had, since one of the most efective midfielders there are in the world right now will be joining them.
Bought from Valencia by £23.5 million in August 2011, Mata played 134 games for the Blues and scored a total of 32 goals, with 57% of Chelsea wins in the games in which he played. He was also nominated Player Of The Year for the two past seasons; in other words, he was considered Chelsea's best player in the two seasons he completed at the club! He was also nominated for the PFA's (Player of the Year Award) last season, even though he lost to (then) Tottenham's Gareth Bale.
There's also another "little" interesting detail: Juan Mata and Fernando Torres were the first (and only, up until now) players who have ever held, simultaneously, the Champions League, Europa League, Euro Championship and World Championship titles. Impressive, to say the least.
That said, it'd be difficult to point out all the games in which he was decisive for Chelsea, for there were so many, but a few moments can be picked out: the Champions League final in 2012, where he assisted Didier Drogba's equalizer that led the match to added time and the penalties shootout (Chelsea won in the end, as everybody well knows), and the Europa League final back in May, where he assisted Ivanovic's 92nd minute winner, are only two examples of how important he came to be to the club and every manager that had him in their team... up until José Mourinho came along.
"He's a fantastic player and despite not playing for us a lot in the last period, could be a very important player for us.", the Portuguese said in a press conference held this Friday, recognzining the loss. "We are not afraid of him going there to do very well for Man United. We want him to go there, to do well for Man United."
The general belief is that Mourinho's final wish for Mata will be fulfilled very soon: being in a new team with a different system and a different coach and being given the opportunity to play again and prove what he's worth, might just be what Juan Mata's been needing for these past few months in London.
And who knows, maybe he will play even better in a club who really wanted him and proved that by spending the most they've ever spent on a player before (that is, if the transfer fee of £37.5 million is confirmed).
Juan Mata, a Spanish gentleman both on and off the field, is flying away to Old Trafford, the Theatre of Dreams. There's nothing to do but to wish him well and hope the Premier League gains with what will certainly be the key transfer of this Winter's transfer market.