A manager who can keep even their own fans guessing over what their next move will be is always exciting, but Jose Mourinho’s apparent willingness to sell Juan Mata is perhaps the only thing he could do to dampen Chelsea fans enthusiasm about his return.
However rumours continue that Mourinho is happy to let Mata leave, with speculation yesterday that Chelsea offered the Spaniard plus £10million for Wayne Rooney.
There has rightly been widespread consternation at the proposal, and Chelsea quickly moved to deny it, stating that no players had been offered to United in any deal.
But it is true that Chelsea need a striker, and considering the other options in their squad, Mata is expendable.
Eden Hazard and Oscar demonstrated their talent last season alongside the Spaniard, whilst Kevin De Bruyne and Andre Schurrle will have the chance to impress this year. With Victor Moses and Ramires also able to cover the attacking midfield positions, they would be able to field an incredibly strong side even if they did let Mata go.
However, even amongst all those talented players, there is a strong case for saying Mata is the best of the lot, and letting him leave, especially to another Premier League club, is impossible to justify.
Some of Mata’s stats demonstrate how important he is to Chelsea. Since his arrival, Chelsea have won 58.3% of their Premier League games when Mata starts, compared to 28.6% without him. In all competitions, the Spaniard scored 20 goals and set up a further 28 last season. Since coming to the Premier League, Mata has set up 25 goals in the competition, more than any other player.
It is also worth remembering that Mata is only 25, and could be about to enter the best years of his career. However much Jose Mourinho rates Eden Hazard and the other attacking midfielders at Chelsea, Juan Mata should be valued above them.
image: © Ben Sutherland