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Starting role suggests Mata surplus to requirements at Chelsea

| 23.08.2013

Despite being Chelsea’s player of the year for each of the last two seasons, there is a growing belief that Juan Mata will be allowed to leave Stamford Bridge before the end of the transfer window.

Manchester United seem the keenest admirers and he could be included in a deal that sees Wayne Rooney move in the opposite direction, although much will probably hinge on whether Chelsea’s last-minute swoop to steal Willian from under the noses of Tottenham is successful.

The fact that Mata was an unused substitute for the season opener with Hull wasn’t a major surprise as he hadn’t long been back from representing Spain in a friendly in Ecuador.

However, it was the role that he played in the 2-1 victory against Aston Villa that intimated that Mata isn’t going to be the focal point of the Chelsea attacks in the same manner that he has been in the past.

Chelsea’s front three was much the same as last season, but rather than starting centrally, he switched positions with Oscar and was stationed out on the right.

And then when Jose Mourinho decided to rotate his trio of attackers, it was Eden Hazard that was given the licence to influence play through the middle, rather than Mata.

Chelsea already appear to have exceeded their quota of attacking midfield options and so should they sign Willian, one high-profile casualty can be expected.

Mata would offer Man Utd something different as most of the current wide options open to David Moyes are natural wingers that like to reach the byline, whereas, his ability to drift in from the right side to influence play adds a different string to their bow.

There is also the possibility that Mata could perform a role at Man Utd similar to that previously carried out by Steven Pienaar under Moyes at Everton, where his drifting in-field creates more space for the overlapping full-back.

It would seem that this Mata deal would be better news for Man Utd than Chelsea and so 11/4 could currently look a big price that the Red Devils retain their Premier League title.

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.