Juan Mata has started the 2012-2013 campaign like a house on fire, and has clearly risen above his compatriots to be the outstanding player of the year thus far. With 6 goals and 6 assists in the Premier League and 11 goals and 13 assists in all competitions, Juan Mata is quickly becoming a world class player. Now it’s time to ask the question how exactly is he doing this?
Firstly, Juan Mata operates in Chelsea’s 4-2-3-1 formation primarily on the right hand side. Although, as of late, he has been operating in more of a central role. Nevertheless with Chelsea’s creativity in the attacking third, Mata is given the freedom to interchange at anytime, thus allowing him to be the playmaker he is. Case-in-point Mata is seen starting on the right hand side yet, as the game advances you can find him in the number 10 role instead of Oscar, or on the opposite flank switched with Hazard as shown in the picture above. This is very unique in a sense that most players do not understand how to play with other players who move into their position, and are basically positionless as you see them floating all over the attacking third. So the fact that Mata is able to do that successfully is a testament to his teammates quality but most importantly a testament to his own quality. This is because as a player Mata is able to communicate to others that at a certain point in time he is going to be in their primary position, and then the following possession will be in another spot. This may sound easy but it is in fact a pretty hard skill to possess.
Secondly, Juan Mata possess another quality which is helping him to become a world class player. This quality is leadership as Mata is undeniably the leader of that now infamous Chelsea trio of Hazard, Oscar and Mata. This was clear in the Fulham game as the team was dull and had no creativity until he came on in the 60th minute. Although Chelsea did not score, they created many more chances due to Mata’s movement and intricate passing in and around the final third. His leadership also showed the following game away to West Ham as he opened the scoring, and created two early chances. Juan Mata may not be a vocal leader like John Terry, who is probably the best in the business at leading vocally. However Mata is a leader by example as he inspires his teammates to be more creative on all areas of the pitch, and especially in that final third. Furthermore Mata holds within him one more trait that allows him to be more of a complete player thus helping him become a world class player.
Thirdly, Juan Mata is an underrated defender, as he always works hard to track back and shut down opposition space in front of him. As Mata is mostly used on the right flank it is his duty to track back and help the full back cover space defensively. Most tiki-taka style playmakers, with the exception of Iniesta and Xavi, do not do their job defensively, as they are too occupied with attacking. However Mata has taken that next step as a player and has become a manager’s dream player because of his discipline and ability to shut down space in front of him.
In summary Mata’s discipline is another admirable trait which is making his progression into a world class player that much quicker.
In conclusion, Juan Mata is a player nipping the bud of his talents and is soon to be among the elites of the footballing world. With his tactical brilliance, playmaking ability, and underrated leadership, Juan Mata is a player to watch over the next 2 seasons, and Chelsea fans and Premiership fans alike should be very excited.