The 23-year-old Spaniard has talked-up both his national team colleagues this week but, after suggesting Manchester United should sign Cesc Fabregas and keep Juan Mata, which of the two playmakers is actually the better player?
26-year-old Mata signed for the Red Devils in January for a club record fee of £37 million and took up the No.8 shirt at Old Trafford whilst his national team colleague 27-year-old Fabregas has found himself a little left out in the cold at the Camp Nou this term.
Mata scored six goals and made six assists in the Premier League this term across 28 appearances for Manchester United and Chelsea whilst Fabregas recorded a tally of eight goals and 13 assists for the Catalans across 28 starts and eight substitute appearances in La Liga.
Fabregas operated a pass completion rate of 87% this term to Mata’s 88.9% and the United man averaged more key passes per game, 2.2 per game on average to Fabregas 1.6 per game. Fabregas averaged a marginally higher number of passes per game with 60.7 per game to Mata’s 56.6 per game on average but Mata averaged more successful crosses, 0.9 per game to Fabregas’ 0.1 per game.
Going forward, Mata also averaged more shots than his Barcelona counterpart with 1.9 shots per game on average to Fabregas’ 1.4 per game on average and Mata was the more accurate finisher with 65% of his shots hitting the target to Fabregas’ 63% on target.
Mata also completed more dribbles successfully, 0.9 per game to Fabregas’ 0.7 per game on average and he earned the Red Devils more free kicks, winning the foul 1.7 times per game to Fabregas’ 1.1 per game on average in La Liga.
Overall, the two midfielders operate in very similar roles at a very similar level of efficiency and potency. I think the comparison is perhaps slightly unfair on Juan Mata, given that his stats for this term will be coloured by his lack of involvement at Chelsea prior to his move and his period of adaptation to settle in once he arrived at Manchester United and, as such, I think, if it came down to either or, Mata should stay, as De Gea hopes, over brining in Fabregas, as De Gea also hopes.