Last season, everything Juan Mata touched turned to gold. He was arguably Chelsea’s best player, and when it was reported that Jose Mourinho was not a fan of him or David Luiz - many laughed off the suggestion, myself included.
Now the duo is reduced to proving their worth against League One opposition in the Capital One Cup.
Mata comes as the biggest surprise. Alongside Eden Hazard and Oscar, the Spaniard was part of the most dynamic attacking line-up any manager could wish for, but Mourinho is worried about the other aspects of his game.
Does he track back enough, are his performance levels conducive to a team effort, if he plays do I have to move Oscar - who is having an excellent - all these questions flying around leaves Mata sitting on the bench twiddling his thumbs.
For a player as good as Mata that just is not going to be OK.
He has already been linked with Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United this summer gone - now reports of a foreign move in January are hitting the headlines. Atletico Madrid and Napoli have been mentioned, but his former team Valencia are also said to be keen.
But wait a minute? Valencia? Aren’t they under crippling debts, like most of the Spanish football teams? Haven’t many banks, investors and creditors called in their debts?
The answer is yes. The shrapnel from the economic blast that caused the continental recession has affected Spain as a nation more than others, and with many settlements reduced to ghost-towns, businesses collapsing daily and maintenance work on projects stopping midway, with a high-vis ticket collecting dust atop a wheelbarrow.
Valencia are one club significantly in debt, reportedly to the combined tune of €304 million - and it a debt the under-privileged taxman himself is desperate to get hold of.
But you might be thinking, ‘but they sold Soldado’. Every penny of that deal was reimbursed to keep the banks at bay.
With this in mind, how on earth do they intend to sign him?
Mata will cost £20 million, minimum - where do Valencia get that money from.
They can use an investment group such as they did to snap up Dorlan Pabon this summer - but to the tune of £20 million, it would have to be one heck of an investment group.
The only possible alternative is a loan, as Mata could consider it helpful to have 100% first name on the team-sheet if he wants to go to Brazil next summer.
But still, a hefty loan fee would have to be paid, even for temporary employment.
And with the debts Valencia have, the chances of signing Mata remain very slim.
image: © Ben Sutherland
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