Juan Mata will regret not attempting to force a move to Manchester United this summer.
The Spanish playmaker has been a huge success at Chelsea since arriving in west London back in 2011, creating goals, scoring a few himself and lifting a number of club awards.
But, following the arrival of Jose Mourinho, the former Valencia starlet finds himself out in the cold at Stamford Bridge, and struggling to break into the first team.
‘The Special One’ has plenty of options in the attacking midfield positions this season, with Oscar, Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne, Willian, Marco Van Ginkel and Andre Schurrle just some of the names vying for opportunities.
For many, Mata would come at the top of that list of players, having already proved himself in the Premier League with the Blues.
However, Mourinho is not one for reputation, preferring to stick to his successful system of play. It’s not about the best players, but the right ones. And, for whatever reason, that would appear to leave Mata out in the cold this season.
Understandably, the Blues did not want to part with the player – especially to a Premier League rival. Mourinho is a fantastic manager, and would struggle to comprehend selling a top player to aid a domestic rival.
But, from the player’s point of view, minutes should be all that matter. And, if Mata isn’t going to get them at Chelsea, then moving would have been his best option in the transfer window.
At 25, the attacking midfielder is reaching his prime, and needs to be playing regular football for a top team. If he spends this season on the bench in the capital, what are his chances of playing for Spain at the 2014 World Cup?
From the outside looking in, Mata does not appear to be a modern-day mercenary looking to cash-in with a massive contract. I might be wrong, but there is little to suggest that he’s in it for the money and the fame.
And, perhaps it’s his characteristics a man rather than a footballer that led him to stick with Chelsea. He did not look to force the club’s hand, or make public statements about his desire to play or move.
Nobody would have blamed him for doing this, except for the Chelsea fans who adore him of course. Even they can understand his predicament, but would struggle to see him running out in opposition colours.
Not just any opposition, but Manchester United. The Red Devils were heavily linked with a move for the player this summer, and a swap deal with Wayne Rooney was even mooted.
Old Trafford would have been the right place at the right time for Mata. It still is, but the transfer window is shut and a move can no longer take place.
The Red Devils need an attacking midfielder with the ability to create chances for their leading marksman, Robin van Persie. If anybody has proved they can do that over the last 24 months, it's Mata.
Whilst the fans in west London might turn against the playmaker, he'd earn himself a new allegiance of followers, becoming the marquee signing at the biggest club in the world.
Deals like this have happened before - think Figo to Real Madrid, or even Torres to Chelsea. It just involves a lot of money, and Manchester United certainly have that.
Were they waiting for a sign from the player to make a move? A desire to leave made public through a statement or transfer request.
It never came, a bid was never forthcoming, and Chelsea kept their fantastic player.
Mata is class personified, but he might rue his decision not to be selfish. Manchester United certainly will, too.
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