It is amazing to know that Juan Mata has only been playing in Chelsea football Club for nearly 2 seasons. Yet every time the Spaniard steps on the pitch, it feels that he has been a mainstay in the side for years. Acquired from Valencia as a last minute buy by Andre Villas Boas, I harboured reasonable (yet shameful) doubts about the Spaniard’s ability to survive in the harsh premier league. After all, many playmakers like him have met their doom upon the rough and physical aspects of the league, why should this kid not follow them to such an end?
Hence, I awaited his debut with cautious optimism. When he made his long awaited appearance against Norwich, my doubts were erased. From the get go, he launched a superb long pass to the feet of Ramires which lead to a glorious assist for the second goal. That was followed by a tidy finish in the closing stages of the game.
It was the heralding of a new beginning for Chelsea. Many knew that we had found something special in the Spaniard. 16 goals and 22 assists later, the name “Juan Mata” was on the lips of every Chelsea fan. In his maiden season, Juan Mata convinced many that he was here to stay, not only as a Chelsea star, but as a future legend. One that reminded me greatly of another legend that graced our club, Gianfranco Zola.
The similarities between the two are striking, both in their technical skills and spirit on the pitch. Mata may have made his debut of Valencia on the left flank, but his talents were underutilized there. After all, it is not pace that differentiates him, but rather his eye for the pass and trickiness in the box. Andre Villas Boas was quick to notice this and Mata soon made his shift into the midfield. Where he became more involved in attacking moves and scored plenty more goals.
Mata like Zola is also an excellent dribbler. Who could forget the feints, flip flaps and deft touches he has used to torment defenders? His skill from set pieces is also noteworthy, although he has since relinquished set piece duties to teammate David Luiz. As a player on the pitch, Mata exudes confidence and consistency, an aspect missing from the other Chelsea attacking players at times.
It is clear that the team relies on Mata for inspiration. Having played almost 117 games since signing for Chelsea, it is obvious that Mata is an undroppable player. In a challenging season where Chelsea fell from the top, Mata has remained ever present as the side’s main attacking threat. 19 goals and 26 assists in all competitions are very impressive statistics, one that rivals that of Gareth Bale and Suarez in overall goal and assists count. Mata has a total of 45 goals and assists while Bale has 36 and Suarez has 42 overall.
While many point to a lack of accomplishments from the Spaniard, it is clear that neither the representatives from Liverpool nor Tottenham have much to show as well. Furthermore, Suarez looks set to lose his PFA due to his insatiable hunger while Belgium Hazard looks set to win the young player of the year award instead. Hence, Mata, Bale and Van Persie remain in a firm three way battle for the PFA.
Between the three, I believe Juan Mata deserves the PFA because of his consistency throughout the season, one that Van Persie has failed to match with his goal drought. While Gareth Bale has matched the Spaniard in terms of consistency, it is Mata’s more refined all round play in assists and passing that separates him from Bale. However, to stand the highest chance of winning, he will need to help Chelsea maintain their top 4 placing this year.
Who do you think should win the PFA Player of the year Award? Should it be Juan Mata or are others more deserving?