He has been likened to Gianfranco Zola by Chelsea fans, but Juan Mata insists he has plenty to do at Stamford Bridge before he is mentioned in the same breath as the Italian.
The Spanish midfielder took part in a Twitter Q&A with @chelseafc recently, where he told us Zola ‘was a really good, important player in Chelsea’s history, but I’ve got a lot of things to do here at Chelsea.’
Keenly nodding in appreciation at the queries that had been submitted using the appropriate #MataQandA hashtag, Mata provided an insight into his life achievements, his ambitions, and his enjoyment of playing alongside three Spanish team-mates here at Chelsea.
No stranger to lifting trophies, he is the proud owner of Champions League and FA Cup medals, and has lifted the World Cup and European Championships with Spain. Not only that, the playmaker won the prestigious Player of the Year award last season – in his first season playing for the club, and @RamblinJamblin was keen to know how it felt.
‘It was a great surprise for me, as it was my first season with Chelsea,’ he responded. ‘It was great for me; I know Ruud Gullit was the last to also win it in his first season here.’
Responding to @fan_chelseafc, who asked how having three other Spanish players in the team has helped, he said: ‘We’re close friends; it’s good to have others here who speak your language.’ Though one friend in particular is concerned with the state of Mata’s locker – ‘It is messy, not quite as bad as Torres says, but it is messy! I’ll post a picture of it one day!’
With new signings still settling, @kcuk87 wondered how Mata is enjoying life alongside Eden Hazard and Oscar. ‘I really like playing with them – they’ve got great quality, skills and I like this kind of football,’ he said. ‘They’ve settled into the Premier League really well, I wasn’t surprised, I think players with quality settle down quicker.’
Outside of football, Mata enjoys seeing the sights of London, and keeping fans up-to-date on his travels via his weekly blog posts, something he thinks ‘is good to share. My blog posts discuss my feelings about everything, not just about football. For example, I’ve just finished the second season of Homeland, it is brilliant!’
As the son of a former pro, there is one obvious influence on his career, though Mata also picked out an Argentine international formerly with Valencia as an idol.
‘My dad played football too, and I remember going with him to the training ground,’ he said, ‘but I really liked to watch Pablo Aimar growing up – I played against him though last season, and couldn’t speak to him because he nutmegged me! I was too embarrassed.’
Looking ahead, there is one major challenge that Mata would like to accomplish with the Blues.
‘I really want to win the Premier League, even though we know it’s difficult,’ he said, ‘but playing here at Chelsea every season you’ve got the opportunity to win it.’