Jose Mourinho has admitted that a player of Juan Mata’s quality does deserve to be in Chelsea’s line-up but there’s only space for XI players and he is currently behind both Eden Hazard and Oscar in the pecking order.
His words have fuelled speculation that the 25-year-old may be ready to quit Stamford Bridge amid rumours of a big money move to Paris Saint-Germain as he pushes for a place in Spain’s World Cup squad, but his word’s about Mata were complimentary.
“There is one thing that is obvious, which is I can’t change the rules and I can’t start the match with 12, 13 or 14.
“I’d love that because many people deserve to play and Juan is one who deserves to play because of the way he works, behaves, the way we see him every day.
“But if I play him and I don’t play (Eden) Hazard or Oscar, you are asking me about Hazard or Oscar in this moment. It’s a consequence of the squad we have where, for these three positions behind the striker, we have so many options.
“It’s hard for me. I don’t have a special pleasure leaving players out. I enjoy playing them and making them happy, but there’s nothing I can do.”
At this point I would understand if Mata decided on jumping ship because of the upcoming World Cup but in the long-term a switch to Paris, Juventus or Atletico Madrid may not be the best option. The door surely isn’t closed on the midfielder and when the opportunity comes along he must make himself un-droppable.
The diminutive playmaker has been our best player in his first two seasons at the club and you never want to let a player as good as that go, especially one that is so popular amongst the fans and ingrained in the culture of the club as much as he is, so I hope he toughs it out.
Cesar Azpilicueta and John Obi Mikel have had to wait for opportunities and finally look like making some headway when it comes to being involved in Mourinho’s first-team plans consistently, even though Azpilicueta would rather do this in his preferred position, and if Mourinho could change the system to relieve Frank Lampard and Hazard of defensive responsibilities against West Ham then he’s clever enough to find a place for someone of Mata’s calibre.
It’ll be interesting to see just how much the Blues value Mata when the bids start rolling in but I’d hate to see him leave.