The alternative title to this piece had a lot more begging and a few expletives, but it appears, for now at least, that Juan Mata is safe at Stamford Bridge.
Anyone who watched a single Chelsea match last year could see the vibrancy he brought to the side. He was the puppet-master of Chelsea’s attack, and it was clear that his presence helped ease the burden on Eden Hazard, paving the way for his brilliant debut. But beyond the aesthetics, Mata proved just as indispensible when his season is examined by the numbers.
“Diminutive”, chances are you have heard Chelsea’s talismanic midfielder described as such at some point throughout the season.
While it is certainly not meant as an insult, its use tends to downplay just how much of a workhorse Mata was this season. In 40 games he logged 80 or more minutes, going for the full 90 in 28 of them.
In total, he logged 2,744 minutes for the Blues, finishing behind only Cole, Ivanovic, and Cech. That is a fantastic sum for a player who was the key cog in the offensive scheme.
Despite this high usage rate, rarely did his performance suffer due to fatigue. Take a quick look at his stretch of play from early March through the end of April. Starting against Man United on the March 10t, he rattled off a nine-game stretch where he assisted in eight goals and scored another.
Outside of this stretch, Chelsea’s number 10 was, unsurprisingly, responsible for a large portion of the team’s offensive production.
The Blues averaged 1.97 goals per game in the Premier League this year. Total up Mata’s goals and assists, and he averaged 0.77 goals and assists per game, meaning he had a hand in more than a third of Chelsea’s tallies in the Premier League.
In Champions League and Europa League matches, that figure jumps to 0.83 goals and assists per game. Now this comes within a much smaller sample size, but is an impressive rate of production nonetheless. He was named the man of the match in six contests this year, tied with Fernando Torres for the most on the team (Ok, maybe this dampens the metric a bit, but it is noteworthy nonetheless).
Arguably the most important number to describe Juan Mata: 25, his age.
He and Hazard went 1-2 in Premier League assist leaders; there is no sense in breaking up such a young, dynamic duo just one year in. There is a fair chance Mata is merely entering his prime, and that we have only seen the beginning of his creative brilliance. Here’s hoping he spends the majority of his coming years in a blue shirt.