Juan Mata’s 30 assists this season for Chelsea in all competitions was the most of any player in the top five leagues across Europe and throw in his 19 goals for good measure and it is hard to believe that he will be allowed to depart Stamford Bridge this summer.
Making bold, unexpected decisions is nothing new to Jose Mourinho, but it would represent even a surprise in his book if he were to allow such a player to depart.
However, this is what leading Madrid paper Marca are suggesting, indicating that Mourinho has told Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich to listen to offers for Mata and fellow Spaniard Fernando Torres.
Firstly, such a move would upset the majority of Chelsea fans and this is not something Mourinho would really want to do within weeks of taking over the reins at the club for a second time.
Secondly, the speculation is probably more to do with the relationship Mourinho seemed to have with the senior Spanish players at Real Madrid.
His fallout with Iker Casillas is well documented, to the extent that the Spanish number one was dropped from the first team, while his relationship with Sergio Ramos was also tetchy.
Thirdly, there was much debate last season that Real Madrid needed to do more to match rivals Barcelona in terms of bringing through youth players.
Mata was on the books of Real Madrid as a 15-year-old before moving on to Valencia to gain more first-team opportunities.
Therefore, if Madrid could orchestrate the return of Mata it would be one tick in their box to say that star youngsters can pass through their system. Generating interest of a possible Mata return to the Bernabeu would work in their favour in this regard.
Mata has now overhauled John Terry and Frank Lampard as the main man at Chelsea and if the club are to win the Premier League at odds of 9/4 next season, it is hard to believe that they will sell potentially their most indispensible player.
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