After a lengthy absence due to his involvement with the Spanish national side, firstly at the European Championships and most recently at the Olympics, Juan Mata has returned to pre-season training at Cobham, and last season’s Player of the Year cannot wait to get started.
It’s been a busy summer for the diminutive playmaker, and one that has brought mixed emotions. He came on as a late substitute as Spain recorded a third straight tournament win in Poland and Ukraine, scoring the last goal in their 4-0 final destruction of Italy, but at the Olympics it was a different story, as they failed to score a single goal and surprisingly crashed out of the competition at the group stage.
As one of the more experienced players in the Olympic squad, Spain’s premature elimination was difficult to take. His immediate focus, however, is now on club duties, and perhaps more importantly, trying to emulate what was a memorable debut season in England, both on a personal and collective level.
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‘I feel really good and confident for the new season,’ Mata told Chelsea TV. ‘Myself and Oriol have been looking forward to coming back and I’m happy to be here.
‘The Euros were the best moment of the summer for me. Another European Championship for Spain, I had the opportunity to play in the final, I scored the last goal and it was amazing.
‘The Olympics was a good experience as a sportsman, but we were so unlucky. We deserved more but we didn’t score so it was impossible to go through.
‘I think it will be a good season for us. Personally, I will try to play more games than last season. For sure, our desire is to win another trophy, either the Premier League or Champions League. These competitions are very important for us and we will try to do our best.’
On his return to the training ground, Mata was met by a couple of new faces, with one more yet to come, and while our latest recruits will no doubt harbour aspirations of playing in a similar position to the Spaniard, he believes an influx of quality players can only benefit the group as a whole.
‘Yes, of course, we have Eden Hazard, Marko Marin, Oscar and Kevin De Bruyne [now on-loan at Werder Bremen],’ he said. ‘We’ve bought some quality players which is good for the team.’