The little magician, the maestro, el matador. You know exactly who I’m talking about. The one, the only, Chelsea’s very own Juan Mata Garcia. Recently nominated for the PFA Player of the Year Award, it would be considered a crime if he doesn’t receive the award. Even though he may not be the Premier League’s top scorer, Mata has easily been one of the best players on Chelsea and in England. Of course, Bale and Van Persie’s goals are bound to get in the way of reason.
We seem to be unable to perform when Mata’s not on the pitch. Are we dependent on him? Perhaps, but we really can’t blame the team for that. Not when Mata brings such energy and inspiration even if he’s not having the best day. With 18 goals and 31 assists in all competitions this season alone, it’s easy to say that Juan has been a steal. Its remarkable that a player who has been at the club for such a short time is already preferred in the centre attacking midfield role to Frank Lampard who, of course, is one of the best players so ever sport Chelsea blue.
Unlike Oscar and occasionally Hazard (with all due respect to these players), who recently seem to have a great effect on a game when brought in as a 2nd half substitute, Mata consistently creates chances and space for our other attacking players, forwards, and even defenders (just look at Terry’s goal at Fulham). Mata who is gifted with great vision is at times, unfortunately, one step ahead of his teammates. He does, however, show great link up play with Hazard, Oscar, and Torres in particular. Despite receiving assists from other players, both Torres and Mata have scored some amazing and important goals from work from each other. Torres unselfishly has gifted Mata with goal scoring opportunities while Mata has more than reciprocated the favour. Although not a Chelsea game, the connection between Mata and Torres in the Euro 2012 final was out of this world. They seemed to be on a wavelength above and beyond their teammates when Torres, after scoring his goal unselfishly and wisely passed the ball, despite having a good shooting chance, to Mata who finished a goal he wouldn’t have missed if he was sleeping with no legs.
After reading an article which more or less put the blame for Torres ‘low scoring’ (absolutely ridiculous as 19 goals for any striker is considered a great season) on the selfishness of the midfield. However, if you examine our Mazacar combo, each player knows he can score goals. Hazard is known for spectacular goals and being able to hold onto the ball for inconceivably long amounts of time. Oscar has made an impact with his tricks, skill and outstanding European goals. And Mata, can hold onto the ball, move around defenders like their cones in training, score, but most importantly, foresee when it’s best to take the opportunity himself, or pass the ball onto another player, be it Torres or Petr Cech, if he were in the position. Mata is hardly Gerrard or the rest of Liverpool who seemed perfectly happy passing the ball to Torres no matter what ridiculously impossible position he was in. With all due respect to the legend Stevie of course.
Of course, like any human beings (I’m still waiting for confirmation that he’s not from some football planet deep in outer space) Mata does have a weakness. “Weakness you say? Off with her head!” Before you gather your pitch forks, Mata’s weakness has nothing to do with talent or skill. It is, essentially, his size. He is a bit of a lightweight and lacks the power to bully defenders in the way Yaya Toure can. This isn’t a huge concern though. Look at Leo Messi (who I feel more than confident in comparing with Juan), who could very be described as large or robust influences the game by his presence alone. Just being on the field during the 2nd leg of the Paris Saint Germain match intimidated the defenders enough to create space for their equaliser. With some grooming Mata is bound to become this type of player.
Much speculation has been given to David Luiz and his ablilty to take over the reins as captain once John Terry and Frank retire, but has no one considered Mata? Yes, David is hugely influence, charismatic and made purely out of talent and potential for captaincy, but Mata is more than able to carry about the same role with his more humble approach.
At only 24, Mata is looking to be one of our best buys in recent years, and the future of Chelsea Football Club is looking so bright, we’ll have to start wearing shades.
Keep the Blue Flag Flying High!