In the infamous opening scene from ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, Bane says that getting caught was all part of his plan. It seems that selling Juan Mata was also part of the plan when Jose Mourinho took over.
“Of course he fits into my plans,” said Mourinho back in July, but transfer rumours started floating around as soon as Mourinho came back to Chelsea. Barcelona, then, were the reported destination for the Spaniard.
Mata, though, did not have a chance – from the beginning.
If selling became the option, Chelsea could have got a much better price for him in the summer – when his stock was at the highest. Instead, they choose to wait until January to dispose him.
One of the reasons may be that Mourinho was well aware of Mata’s popularity. After being voted as the club’s Player of the Year for the last two seasons and also winning the Champions League, Mata is a firm favourite amongst the Chelsea faithful. Clearly, selling him wasn’t going to be easy.
Mourinho may enjoy an even bigger place in Chelsea fans’ hearts, but he did not want to antagonise anyone by making Mata’s sale being his first major decision since his return.
Looking back, his first plan was to make Chelsea fans forget Mata. For an incredibly successful manager that he is and with a talented squad, it was not hard to achieve. In came Oscar and Willian. Amidst an enthralling title race, Mata was slowly being forgotten as a regular first-team player.
At the start of December, a disillusioned Mata said:
“Some managers will not give you any reasons as to why you are playing or not playing simply because they don’t have to. Jose is like that.
“I just try to keep myself going the same, no matter what kind of behaviour, because as a professional, you have to be ready for every situation.”
Often, Mourinho attributed the lack of defensive work from Mata as the reason for his absence. This is the same player who started against Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the 2012 Champions League winning season. These matches showed Chelsea’s defensive strength like never before and nobody seemed to complain about his defensive work rate back then.
Arsene Wenger suggested that FFP may have been the reason behind Mata’s sale. “I think it is a purely financial reason,” he said. “That is the first time I come to that conclusion with Chelsea.”
It has been three years since Mata arrived for £23 million. Hence, his book value would have reduced to such an extent that the club will stand to make the highest profit. This would be beneficial after making a loss close to £50 million in the last financial year.
Mata – it appears – was fighting a losing battle because ‘selling him was part of the plan’.
‘Hitman’ Mourinho has executed it to perfection.