Juan Manuel Mata García was born in Ocón de Villafranca, Burgos on 28 April 1988. A skillful attacking midfielder, who can also play on the wing, Mata is known for his technical ability, vision and creativity, which allow him to create chances for teammates on a regular basis. In addition, he is able to add a direct goal threat of his own.

Mata began playing youth team football for Real Oviedo in 1998 and then moved to Real Madrid's academy in 2003. After graduating to play for their 'B' team, Real Madrid Castilla, he signed for Valencia ahead of the 2007-08 season. It was at Valencia that Mata made a name for himself in the professional game, being named the club's Best Young Player in his first season and reaching double figures for goals in both 2008–09 and 2009–10.

In the summer of 2...

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