Football

Chelsea's Spanish stars must consider leaving

Torres, Mata & Azpilicueta may need to leave Chelsea (©GettyImages)
Torres, Mata & Azpilicueta may need to leave Chelsea (©GettyImages).

The return of Jose Mourinho may have given a much-needed boost to most of the Chelsea squad – but not for the Spanish trio at Stamford Bridge.

Fernando Torres, Juan Mata and Cesar Azpilicueta have struggled to get minutes under the Portuguese coach at the start of this season, while three new players were recruited in their respective positions during the summer months.

Mourinho has brought in Samuel Eto'o as his first-choice striker, leaving Torres as the club's back-up forward; Mata was failing to get off the Chelsea bench before the £30m arrival of Brazil international Willian, and even though right-back Wallace has been loaned to Inter Milan for the season it's clear that Branislav Ivanovic is the number one choice in that position.

All three players were regulars under former "interim" coach Rafael Benitez – and all of them, particularly Mata, ought to be regulars at top European clubs.

Mata, who has been Chelsea's Player of the Year for the last two seasons, has the most reason of the trio to feel aggrieved after losing his place in the starting line-up.

Mourinho insists that the 25-year-old remains very much part of his plans, but openly admitted during Friday's press conference: "He will sometimes start, sometimes on the bench. He has to be [prepared to be] not selected like everybody else."

Does this sound like a manager who plans to play him on a regular basis? Hardly.

Mourinho knows that Mata remains a firm fan favourite – and he does not want to run the risk of alienating supporters, or the player himself, by revealing that he considers the talented attacking midfielder as a squad player rather than a man for his first 11.

Still, it doesn't take much reading between the lines to grasp Mourinho's stance.

Similarly with Torres, Mourinho has a striker on his hands that has not convinced at Stamford Bridge since making the £50m move from Liverpool in January 2011. He may have scored in the European Super Cup against Bayern Munich, but that didn't stop the Blues' boss from doing everything in his power to recruit a new first-choice striker.

He eventually settled for Eto'o who, despite being 32, is expected to lead the line in Chelsea's most important matches of the season.

It's time for Torres to leave England and head back to Spain in order to resurrect his career. A season of sitting on the bench during Chelsea's big games will not impress Spain boss Vicente Del Bosque, who will only select players for the 2014 World Cup that have featured regularly for their clubs over the course of the campaign.

As for Azpilicueta, it's abundantly clear that he will only be used as a cup player this term – unless Ivanovic picks up an injury.

The 24-year-old has his whole career ahead of him – and missing league games through sitting on the bench will do his development no favours whatsoever.

Torres, Mata and Azpilicueta are all likely to be left with big decisions to make before next summer's transfer window opens. Their minds could even be made up by January at this rate.

Although they may currently wish to stay at Chelsea, Mourinho's decision-making over the next few months is likely to persuade them otherwise.

Topics:
Football
Chelsea
Fernando Torres
Premier League
Juan Mata

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