Juan Mata has vividly recalled the time Jose Mourinho showed him at Chelsea prior to joining Manchester United.
Mata signed up for Chelsea in the summer of 2011 from Spanish side Valencia in a €26.7m deal. He soon proved his money’s worth by becoming an integral part of the Chelsea midfield, winning back-to-back Player of the Year awards.
The Spaniard ultimately made 135 appearances, providing 35 goals and 58 assists on route to three titles in the Champions League, Europa League, and FA Cup.
Mourinho’s return in 2013, however, led to Mata’s downfall at Stamford Bridge.
Of all the players that have left Chelsea in recent years, Juan Mata was the one that hurt me the most. The other players we let go we’re not at their peak of their powers. In Juan Mata this wasn’t the case, he had 2 fantastic seasons but Mourinho decided to sell him. pic.twitter.com/VyKl6kit0A
— Frank Khalid (@FrankKhalidUK) October 24, 2020
The midfielder went from being one of the club’s finest performers in his first two seasons to become surplus to requirements in his third campaign. Therefore, Chelsea sold him to United in January 2014 for €44.7m.
“At the time, it was a bit difficult because [things were great in] 2011/12 and then the next season, which probably was my best season in terms of numbers and games played and enjoying on the pitch, 2012/13,” said Mata as quoted on Onefootball.
“We won the Europa League at the end with Rafa Benítez as a coach and everything was going so well on a personal level.
“And then José arrived and he had a different way of playing football, or a way that was not perfect for my qualities as a player, and that was it. I was not playing much as I used to play before.
“There was never a personal problem between us, like some people said at the time, but it was a challenge for me.
“Having been Player of the Season for the last two years in a row, playing nearly 70 games [in 2012/13] and feeling like an important player of the group, everything changed and I had to prove myself again.
“I didn’t last very long after that at Chelsea.”
Mourinho then took charge of United two years later and selected Mata frequently until his departure in December 2018.