Former Bayern Munich and Chelsea midfielder Michael Ballack retired from professional football in October 2012 after more than 450 league appearances in both the Bundesliga and Premier League.
Michael Ballack was signed by Jose Mourinho in the summer of 2006, and had hopes of ending his career at Stamford Bridge. However, the former German international was criticised on occasions for putting in lethargic performances, before rumours surfaced of an early exit to his Chelsea career.
Despite a Champions League Final loss in 2008 and missing out on a league title in 2009, Ballack did manage to finally win a Premier League medal as Chelsea won a domestic double in 2010. It would be the former midfielder’s last season at the club, as he returned to the Bundesliga to play for Bayer Leverkusen before retiring.
Ballack has still been in touch with football, working on ESPN during Euro 2012 as well as playing in an official farewell game in the summer of 2013 along with current Chelsea stars Michael Essien and Andre Schurrle – coached by current boss Jose Mourinho.
However, according to Portuguese press A Bola, Ballack has spoken publicly over the exclusion of current star Juan Mata, criticising Jose Mourinho in the process.
"I cannot understand why Mourinho is having problems when it comes to getting the most out of his strikers,"
"I also think he's making a mistake in the way he uses Mata."
Michael Ballack’s comments regarding the way he uses the Spanish international may carry some weight
Juan Mata has just two assists to his name from 11 Premier League games so far this campaign, and just one in the Champions League. As for appearances, the Spanish international has nine less than Brazilian Oscar and 12 less than Eden Hazard.
Will Juan Mata get another chance to show Mourinho he can fit into his system? Well if The Guardian’s report regarding a provisional £40m agreement with Manchester United is to be believed, then it’s looking highly doubtful.
image: © Ben Sutherland