Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas has shared his surprise at watching Juan Mata complete a £37.1m move from Chelsea to Manchester United last month, telling BBC Sport that he thinks the Blues have allowed their best player in recent times to leave prematurely.
Mata's club-record move to Old Trafford was without doubt the headline transfer of a busy January window across the continent, with United manager David Moyes moving quickly to sign a playmaker who had consistently failed to make the Chelsea starting XI under Jose Mourinho.
Fabrgeas himself was a top transfer target of United's last summer but remained focused on his long-term future with Barcelona, staying a firm fixture at the Camp Nou in an advanced midfield role under Gerardo Martino.
The Spanish schemer has a close affinity with the Premier League dating back to his spell as Arsenal captain and revealed that he could hardly believe Chelsea sold his international team-mate, particularly given his star status over the past two seasons.
Cesc told Football Focus: "I was surprised to see Juan move there because I think he has been Chelsea's best player over the last two years.
"He's produced some amazing performances as they won the Champions League, Europa League and FA Cup and he scored in the final of the European Championship with Spain."
With Fabregas still firmly committed to forging a lasting legacy at Barca the defending Premier League champions have moved elsewhere, looking to the likes of Mata, Marouane Fellaini and Adnan Januzaj to provide a consistent supply line for Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney moving forward.
The ex-Gunners skipper meanwhile has been in brilliant form in La Liga this season, scoring eight goals and providing 15 assists in 22 matches so far this term.