Chelsea and Spain attacking midfielder Juan Mata.
Juan Mata is fast becoming one of the best attacking midfielders in the game, as he racked up an impossible-looking 20 goals and 35 assists in all competitions for Chelsea in 2012/13.
His superb dribbling, passing and shooting make him the perfect all-round midfield playmaker, and he looks a bargain now after joining from Spanish side Valencia for £23.5million in 2011. Arsenal had been linked strongly with Mata at the time, but would not match Chelsea’s offer, something Arsene Wenger will no doubt be regretting now.
Mata settled quickly at Chelsea, scoring 12 goals and providing 23 assists in his first season, and helping the club to a surprise victory in the Champions League final against Bayern Munich, though he did have his shot saved by Manuel Neuer in the penalty shoot-out. Still, he added the European Cup to his already-vast collection of silverware, as he played a small part in Spain’s World Cup win in 2010, having already won the Copa Del Rey with Valencia and the FA Cup with Chelsea. He followed that up with the European Championship trophy as he scored Spain’s fourth in their 4-0 final win over Italy in Ukraine.
Mata has been somewhat limited to just 27 caps and 8 goals for the Spanish national side, but his ever-improving performances will surely see him over-take the likes of Cesc Fabregas and David Silva in the pecking order soon enough, despite plenty of other strong competition from the likes of Andres Iniesta, as well as rising starts such as Isco and Thiago Alcantara.
It is an amazing generation of Spanish footballers, particularly in that attacking midfield area, but Mata at times looks like the best of the lot, as his incredible numbers show quite how dangerous he is at all times in terms of creating chances for his team-mates and for himself.
As well as his superb range of passing, Mata has scored some great long-range goals, often from free-kicks, and the technique on his left foot means he is always a threat from almost any angle, as he showed with perhaps the goal of his career against Manchester United last season, latching onto the ball to hit a sweet first-time volley past David de Gea.
Surprisingly, Mata has been linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge this summer as Jose Mourinho looks to re-shape the Chelsea squad. This has seen Barcelona show a strong interest, and it would certainly be something special to see the 25-year-old link up with the likes of Messi, Neymar and Iniesta at the Nou Camp, though the Blues would be mad to let him go.