After Chelsea‘s 3-1 victory at Southampton on New Year’s Day, word on the street is that Blues coach Jose Mourinho opened the door for Michael Essien and Juan Mata to leave the club. This is likely made public now because as of January 1 the Winter Transfer Window is now underway. Both midfielders are struggling to gain playing time at Stamford Bridge, and if they do not find a contract elsewhere their World Cup dreams are in jeopardy.
The most surprising element of this rumor is that Juan Mata, 2012-13 Chelsea Player of the Year, is not wanted at the London club anymore. The young Spaniard has been an integral part of the squad since his arrival from Spanish club Valencia in the summer of 2011. Last season’s statistics alone should be enough to impress the Portuguese manager and accommodate him into his plans with 35 assists and 20 goals in all competitions.
As soon as Mourinho returned to Chelsea in the summer it was clear that he was not a fan of the Spanish international and would omit him from the starting roster. On the pitch, the midfielder seems to have no fault in the matter as he has shown his skill even in limited matters. What has not been clear is the reason why the former Real Madrid manager has chosen not to use such a talented and versatile player.
There has been speculation that Mata’s small size, his passing-possession based style of play, or his large amount of FC Barcelona friends have been used against him. None of this has been confirmed, but it will likely surface as soon as the player leaves.
Mourinho will not like the repercussions of this decision even though he might not realize it yet. The departure of Juan Mata will leave him with one less option and might even cause a rift in the dressing room as Mata was loved throughout amongst his colleagues. Having the players unhappy with you is the last thing Mou wants as his past at Madrid has told him.
What is interesting to wonder now is where will Juan go? Will he return to Spain? Will he take the offer from PSG? Or will he remain in England and sign with a direct rival? Either way, the Chelsea manager will look back on this decision and wonder what he was thinking.