When Valencia announced on 21 August 2011 that they had agreed a £23.5 million fee for the transfer of Juan Mata to Premier League club Chelsea, fans reacted with indifference.
Although Mata had proved to be a hit during his time at Valencia, Chelsea fans were still struggling to come to terms with the enigma named that is Fernando Torres.
On top of that, Andre Villas-Boas who was a relatively unknown name in England had taken over the club sometime beforehand.
It's been two years now and Torres still remains an enigma and managers have come and gone.
During the last two years, Mata has been the backbone of the Chelsea team. His goal return might not be as extravagant as Gareth Bale, but he has slowly but surely built a reputation for himself in England.
Given that Torres or Demba Ba haven’t set the world alight during that time, it has to be said that Mata has done his reputation no harm with numerous outstanding displays.
Another thing in his favour is that he is usually the first name on the team sheet. If Chelsea still had the Torres of old or Didier Drogba in his prime, Mata would surely gather more assists as he’s basically a playmaker who feeds the strikers.
Mata will surely not run through defences and terrorise them but if you are looking for a player who will give it his all, look no further.
With John Terry and Frank Lampard at the end of their Chelsea careers, Mata can be considered a suitable candidate for captaincy.
There has been talk about David Luiz being the leader of the pack but his eccentric and unpredictable behaviour is an issue of concern. Chelsea have always had a team full of egos so they need someone who is calm to lead them.
This coming season should be really interesting with news of Jose Mourinho coming back to town. Mourinho usually plays a defensive brand of football and it will be interesting to see how it affects Mata.
Under Rafael Benitez, Mata, Hazard and Oscar formed a potent trio behind the striker. But knowing Mourinho and his style of play, that might be about to change.
Either way, Mata surely remains one of Chelsea's best players who is a role model both on and off the field.
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