Mata clocked up 54 appearances for Chelsea in his debut season, impressive on all accounts since his £24m move from Valencia in the summer.
He scored twelve goals, including one on his debut versus Norwich, and notched a notable twenty-one assists also.
As well as scoring on his league debut, he netted the second on his Champions League debut, against Bayer Leverkusen in early September.
Although Mata was expecting to shine, not many people anticipated what a great season he would have, ending in his picking up the Player of the Season award at the end of the season, after several M.O.M performances, including a fantastic game against Wolverhampton Wanderers, where he set up two, and scored the third, in a 3-0 defeat of the Midlands side.
If that wasn’t enough, the Spanish wizard put in a remarkable performance in the FA Cup final, against picking up the Man of Match award as they beat Liverpool 2-1.
He was becoming known for his greatness in creating chances, assisting two goals in the 5-1 and 6-1 victories over rivals Tottenham, and QPR respectively. It was no surprise that the 24 year old led all stats in the Chelsea team this year, creating 66 chances, 61 completed crosses, and 573 completed passes.
One of those crosses would be a telling one too, a pinpoint delivery in the 88th minute of the Champions League Final to allow Drogba to send the game into extra-time. The rest is history.
On top of his exploits for his club, he will lead the line for his country this season too, as he is very much a part of Spains Euro 2012 set-up, and this season’s stats cannot have done him any harm at all in being considered.
The youngster has no desire to rest on his laurels though, telling Chelsea’s official club magazine “I am young as a footballer and I have to improve my game and my statistics over the next year, this is what I will try to do.”
He will link up with the expertise of Eden Hazard next season too, and possibly Porto striker Hulk, and that can only be a good thing. Mata has his eyes on bigger prizes too after this seasons exploits. “I could never have expected my first season to go this well. To win the FA Cup, the Champions League and the Chelsea Player of the Year, it is incredible and I am so happy, but I want more.”
That last statement will be one of the reasons he fits in so well to Roman Abramovich’s plans. He wants young, hungry players, capable of winning more silverware. That is Juan Mata down to a tee, and Chelsea fans all over will be hoping that belief and desire rubs off on the rest of the squad in the 2012/23 season.
By Brad Smith