Football

Chelsea trio look to step up in Mata's absence

Willian and Hazard could be vital in years to come (©GettyImages)
Willian and Hazard could be vital in years to come (©GettyImages).

The dust has now settled after the sale of Juan Mata, from Chelsea to Manchester United.

The £37.1 million fee was deemed suitable for Chelsea's Player of the Year for the previous two seasons and a major cog in their recent successes, managing to lift the FA Cup and Champions League in 2011-12 and the Europa League in 2012-13. An impressive return at the club where he made his name in England.

Everyone seems to benefit from this peculiar transfer between clubs whose rivalry led people to previously believe a major transfer between the two would never materialise. Mata gets to play for his World Cup spot, Manchester United get the creative force they have been so desperately crying out for and the nominees to succeed Mata's old influence get a concrete vote of confidence from their manager.

Eden Hazard has emerged as the most influential of the current attackers that operate behind Chelsea's typically ineffective strikers. His goals and assists are a vast improvement from kicking ball boys in the gut. The fact he has knuckled-down recently signals the influence Mourinho must be having. 

Oscar, once-dubbed the new Kaka, still has areas of his game to improve upon but his talent is unquestionable. His sublime free-kick hinted at what the Brazillian can go on to achieve.

Willian arrived with his hefty £33 million acquisition fee, but he has shown signs of settling in January with some good performances. His defensive work is an asset. On the bench sits Andre Schurrle, a useful player in the Bundesliga but yet to get a definitive run in the Chelsea side. 

The sale of Mata was symbolic of Mourinho showing his authority by doing the most drastic thing possible - selling their best player for the last two seasons. It has allowed Mourinho to demonstrate he is in control. Perhaps he never fancied Mata, maybe he was just never a Mourinho player. Nevertheless, the stage has now been set for the current attacking trio to strive for the presence Mata once carried in the Chelsea side. 

It's not beyond the realms of possibility that Mata was used as a make-weight in the Wayne Rooney pursuit over the summer and, since then, the relationship between Mata and Mourinho has broken down. 

The investment of the transfer money generated from the sale of Mata in Mohammed Salah and Kurt Zouma, two relatively young players, is somewhat similar to the investment of faith Mourinho has placed in his current attacking options, in the sense that time will tell if these were the correct decisions.

Nevertheless, Mourinho didn't need to call on Mata with the reliance once devoted to the Spaniard by previous Chelsea managers, yet Chelsea are only three points off the top spot of the Premier League - somewhere they haven't been come the end of the season since 2009-10.


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Topics:
Premier League
Eden Hazard
Chelsea
Juan Mata
Football

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