It could be fair to say that at the end of last season, Chelsea needed a new lease of life. Finishing joint second with third placed Manchester City; the season of 2010-2011 could be reviewed as a bit of a disappointment from the Blues fans.
So when the Summer transfer window opened, newly appointed Chelsea manager Andre Villas Boas felt a bit more flare and creative ‘spark’ was needed.
After talks with Chelsea’s London Rivals, Tottenham Hotspur, broke down, Chairman Roman Abramovich swooped in with an offer of £23.5m for Valencia’s Juan Mata. A five year contract was agreed and Mata signed for the Stamford Bridge outfit on the 24th October 2011.
The Spaniard started his career as a youngster at Real Oviedo where he spent three years in their youth team. Due to his success he then joined the Real Madrid youth academy where he stayed at the club for four years.
Whilst at Real Madrid, Mata never really had the chance to break into the first team and after a contractual clause in 2007, the attacking midfielder joined Madrid’s La Liga counterparts; Valencia.
At Valencia, Mata was soon finding a regular starting place with the likes of Vicente picking up regular injuries. In his first season with the Yellows, Mata scored twice in the Copa del Ray semi-final match against Barcelona to help his side reach the final, where he scored the opener. Due to his success, he was voted the team’s best young player by the team’s players and fans.
After settling in at the Mestalla, Mata became an ever-present offensive figure for Valencia, scoring 17 goals in 68 games, with the club achieving back-to-back third-league places. On 9 May, England-based Spanish journalist Guillem Balagué reported interest from several Premier League clubs.
Mata’s talents were soon spotted by the national team. He has been involved with the Spanish national teams since 2006 where he helped Spain win the 2006 European Under-19 Football Championship, ever since he has been involved, playing for the Under 21s in 2007 to making his first appearance for the national first team in a 2010 FIFA World Cup Qualifier against Turkey.
The Spaniard made one appearance in the 2010 World Cup competition where Spain won overall. Mata came on as a substitute, replacing fellow Chelsea team-mate Fernando Torres in their win against Honduras.
Ironically, it was Torres that persuaded Mata too sign for the Blues. In an interview Mata revealed “Fernando got me excited about the thought of coming here. He said it would be good for me here, and that me and him together could be good. I also talked to my family and friends about it as well.”
Moving on to his time at Chelsea, a goal on his debut in the 3-1 home win against Norwich meant that the Chelsea faithful took him to their hearts straight away.
So far for Chelsea this season, the Spaniard has scored six goals in 26 league and cup games and proves to be one of the deals of the summer.
By Jack Fox