Date: 17th April 2013 at 4:00pm
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Rafael Benitez has praised Juan Mata for his incredible season with the Blues and has compared the Spanish playmaker to Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola.

I’m not really sure why Mata hasn’t been talked about as a potential Player of the Year contender considering his performances and numbers this season but his manager has hailed his impact and recognises him as a special talent.

Quoted in The Sun, Benitez said:

“Game intelligence, that’s the key. Juan’s very clever, finds space and technically he’s very good. He has good vision and scores goals.

“These players are difficult to find. He likes to play between the lines, behind the midfielders and in front of the centre-backs.

“Gianfranco Zola was this kind of player, not the biggest but he had game intelligence and could get into the box at the right time.”

He added:

“Juan has assists, goals and has played a lot of games.

“When you are playing for a team who only play one game a week you can be good but he has been playing two games a week for months and is doing really well.

“He’s a really good professional and his numbers are fantastic.

“In terms of his performance on the pitch and in training sessions, it’s not a surprise because we knew him.”

Mata has scored 18 goals for Chelsea during the current campaign and has made 24 assists which makes him worthy to be mentioned in relation to personal accolades such as the Player of the Year award. I expect Robin van Persie will win the award as his form during the first half of the season helped Manchester United into a comfortable lead in the league that has rarely been threatened since, but I don’t see why the likes of Luis Suarez or Gareth Bale are getting more attention than the diminutive Spaniard.

The 24-year-old has been our most important player of the season and has dragged us through at times, along with Belgian star Eden Hazard who has enjoyed a great debut season in England. I’d say that those two players along with Petr Cech have been our most consistent and impressive performers during a difficult season.

Source: The Sun

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