Juan Mata is headline news in Spain right now, with Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho playing a role akin to the pantomime villain, refusing to select someone who was always expected to walk into his country’s squad for next year’s World Cup.
The latest report comes from Spanish broadsheet El Confidencial, which claims Mata has “20 days to find a solution to his plight”, which is an interesting way of describing someone who does play, just not as often as before, and spends the rest of his time being suitably rewarded for bench-warming duties.
While “plight” may be overdoing it, there is no doubt that Mata’s season has not gone as he would have hoped or expected.
How a player can go from being crowned Player of the Year – twice – to perennial substitute is a mystery to many. But the form of Eden Hazard and Willian gives a more realistic pointer to why the Spaniard is currently being overlooked.
El Confidencial throws out the usual reported suitors, including Manchester United, Inter Milan and Atletico Madrid, with the story claiming these clubs and others are keen to “rescue him from the clutches of Mourinho”.
In short, the report claims Mata has 20 days to ensure his World Cup dream becomes a reality.
“For now, an uneasy calm reigns in his case,” it states, “but as February approaches, the rush to change his situation will increase. At stake is his presence in Brazil.”
Perhaps it is overly dramatic, but given the players at Spain’s disposal, they are likely to choose those playing regularly over those who are not.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald