The case of Chelsea's former Player of the Year Juan Mata is an intriguing one.
The undoubted star of the current Blues squad for two seasons running, the Spaniard now finds himself surplus to requirements - and without really doing anything wrong.
All Mata has been guilty of is adopting a playing style that does not suit manager Jose Mourinho. But the 25-year-old has not changed anything this season. This is the same style and form that he has shown all his footballing life.
Whether Mata is indeed guilty of not tracking back enough to suit Mourinho's game plan, or whatever other issue he may have with his midfielder, is only for the Portuguese boss to decide. And so too is the Spanish playmaker's future.
Many may see Mata's current predicament as nothing less than a crime against football, with a truly talented attacking midfielder stripped of his chance to change games with his creativity and flair. Yet, if the 25-year-old is deemed not good enough to turn out for Chelsea, why should the west London club let him turn out for one of their rivals?
Mata's omission, in Mourinho's eyes, is helping the Blues in more ways than one. By dropping the Spaniard from his starting XI more often than not, the Chelsea coach believes he is doing his team a service by injecting greater defensive responsibility through Mata's replacement. But by still keeping Mata at the club, Mourinho and the Chelsea board are also stopping the 25-year-old from doing damage to the Blues by supplying his attacking capabilities elsewhere.
Alas, the only real loser in the situation is Mata himself. Chelsea don't need to sell him - especially to a Premier League rival.
The Spaniard's wages are hardly a problem for a huge-spending side who fall within Uefa's financial regulations, while he can always offer a threat as an impact sub or during particularly busy times in the season. Who knows - maybe Mourinho has a master plan for Mata to suddenly become his hero late on in the season, anyway?
Either way, it would make no sense for Chelsea to sell this January. For, even if the Spaniard simply takes up an extra space on the bench, Mourinho is directly stealing goals and assists from anyone who might otherwise be playing him.
image: © Ben Sutherland