Chelsea Transfer Rumours: Blues Can't Afford to Lose Juan Mata over Contract

Justin OnslowContributor IIJune 20, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 19:  Juan Mata of Chelsea celebrates scoring the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Everton at Stamford Bridge on May 19, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Jose Mourinho has only just returned to Stamford Bridge, and already he’s faced with some questions regarding one of his best players.

Or at least that’s what reports suggest.

According to Martin Lipton of the Daily Mirror, Barcelona have targeted midfielder Juan Mata as a top candidate for transfer this summer, and Mourinho may just be willing to go along with the plan:

Barcelona have targeted Juan Mata for a shock summer swoop because they believe he has fallen out with Jose Mourinho.

And the Nou Camp side have now sent out feelers in the direction of the former Valencia man Mata, ahead of a likely £30million bid.

The latest claim, coming from Catalonia, suggests Mourinho has blocked a wage increase due the 25-year-old under the terms of his current contract.

Sources in Spain insist Mata's 19 goals and 35 assists last term entitled him to a pay rise, but it has been vetoed at Mourinho's orders.

If those sources are correct, Mourinho may have already found himself in over his head. Mata was tremendous in tallying 54 points for the Blues last term, and he’s arguably Chelsea’s most important young player as they attempt to make a run at the Premier League title next term. If the 25-year-old has a salary dispute with the club, Mourinho would be wise to settle it now before the situation gets out of hand.

Of course, the source of such reports could also be coming from Camp Nou as the Catalan side try to stir up unrest and force Chelsea into making a poor decision. Given Barca’s obvious intent to make some changes this summer, that scenario would certainly make some sense.

What we know at this point is that Barcelona are interested, Mata has publicly admitted nothing of a salary dispute, and Chelsea have denied the rumours.

But there’s always more to the story than meets the eye.

It wouldn’t be a surprise for Mata to have a wage increase clause in his contract based on recent performance. It also wouldn’t be a surprise for Mourinho to have blocked the increase in order to free up funds.

What makes little sense is the idea that the Stamford Bridge boss would be willing to sell his best player over such a matter—unless, of course, he wants to free up a spot for Eden Hazard to shine as the club’s go-to playmaker, as Lipton suggests in his report.

Still, Chelsea can’t afford to let seemingly minor details uproot Mata and allow the situation to become toxic ahead of the summer transfer period. Both Chelsea and Mata have done well to quell the rumours, but speculations will only continue to increase until a definitive decision has been made.

Regardless of the validity of those rumours, Mourinho can’t afford to let Mata go at any cost, especially if that price is the reported £30 million offer Barcelona are preparing. Mata is worth more to Chelsea than a £30 million bid.