Juan Mata today (Saturday) completed a transfer to Manchester United.
The 25-year-old leaves after two-and-a-half years with Chelsea, in which time we won the Champions League, the FA Cup and the Europa League. In total he made 135 appearances, 19 of those as a substitute, and he scored 33 goals.
Speaking about the attacking-midfielder’s departure today, Jose Mourinho said: ‘I and everyone at Chelsea have massive respect for Juan and his big talent, and when he told us of his wish to move on because he wanted to play more, we did not want to deny him this opportunity.
‘We want him to be successful in his career and as well as that, this transfer makes huge financial sense to us at Chelsea.
‘We are pleased Juan will stay in England – even with a rival club. He is happy in this country and it is good the Premier League retains such a talented player.
‘Juan moves with our full blessing and I can speak on behalf of everyone at the club in thanking him for his fantastic service, and wishing him well for his future.’
Mata moved to Stamford Bridge from Valencia shortly after the start of 2011/12 season, taking on the number 10 shirt and scoring on his debut as a substitute against Norwich City.
The Spanish international, a member of their 2010 World Cup-winning squad, contributed significantly as we lifted the FA Cup and then the Champions League at the end of his first season. It was from his corner that Didier Drogba headed the equaliser against Bayern Munich that paved the way for the ultimately triumphant penalty shootout in Germany, having a fortnight earlier supplied the pass for Ramires to put us ahead against Liverpool at Wembley.
Mata was voted Chelsea Player of the Year, the first to earn the accolade in his debut season since Ruud Gullit.
During the summer that followed, he became a European champion for his country as well as his club, scoring in Spain’s Euro 2012 final win over Italy, and followed that with appearances in the London Olympics.
Understandably given a rest shortly after the season started, he returned in good goalscoring form and was on target against Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United. However, Chelsea fell out of the Champions League early but there was still silverware success in May with Mata’s set-piece delivery again crucial. From his corner Branislav Ivanovic headed the deciding goal in the Europa League final against Benfica.
In the Premier League last season, a Mata-winner at Old Trafford helped ease fears that the Blues may not qualify for the Champions League for the current season, and we eventually finished third with the Spaniard netting his 20th goal of the season in a final-day win over Everton.
Mata was shortlisted for the PFA Player of the Year award and was voted the Chelsea Player of the Year for the second year running, and Players’ Player of the Year for his on-pitch contribution.
This season, Mata suffered a pre-season injury which limited his early involvement, but he started wins over Aston Villa and Swindon and the defeat at Everton in the opening weeks, and began four games out of six in October as well as the loss at Newcastle in the first game of November. However, Jose Mourinho explained that Oscar’s outstanding form in the first half of the campaign ensured the Brazilian was the preferred choice for the ‘No10 role’.
In total during 2013/14, Mata made 14 starts and three substitute appearances, scoring his final Chelsea goal with a right-footed curling effort against Arsenal in the Capital One Cup.