Jose Mourinho isn't afraid to speak his mind. While that can make him a polarizing figure at times, it actually works well during a transfer window. His stance on any given player is usually crystal clear, as is the case with Juan Mata.
After speculation arose linking the talented midfielder to Manchester United as the defending champions continue to seek ways to bolster their squad, via James Dickenson of Express, Mourinho quickly shot down the talk. He said Mata is a player Chelsea want to keep, according to ESPN.
No speculation, no speculation. He's a player we all like, he's a player we all want to keep. We want more quality in the team, we don't want less quality.
We want to add quality to the quality we have. So Juan is not a player we want to lose.
The point is not to sell, the point is I want a 22-player squad. So if somebody comes... Do we need to sell? No, we don't.
The Blues manager went on to say a loan of another player remains possible as he seeks the right balance between depth and an overloaded squad. The club is active in four competitions this season, which means it will need reserves to fill voids on a regular basis.
That said, the main focus is Mata.
The 25-year-old Spanish international is coming off the best campaign of his career. He scored 20 goals and assisted on 35 more in 64 matches across all competitions, establishing himself as a key piece of the Chelsea attack.
The main reason his name was brought into the transfer discussion was perceived overcrowding in the midfield. The Blues already have a very strong foundation, and they are in the process of finalizing an agreement to land Willian from Anzhi Makhachkala.
Add Willian to a group that already includes Eden Hazard, Oscar, Frank Lampard, Kevin De Bruyne and Mata, among others, and there's undoubtedly a minor logjam. The key word, however, is minor. It's not a situation Mourinho can't effectively juggle.
As the boss remarked, the entire focus is building a quality-filled squad. Often, that's considered to be a strong starting lineup and maybe a few key reserves. Mourinho clearly thinks it means having 22 players, or what amounts to two full lineups, he can count on.
Mata is a dynamic player who belongs in the starting 11. He makes the players around him better by opening lanes in the attacking third with smart runs and delivering pinpoint crosses. Last season was a perfect example of that.
Is keeping Mata the right move for Chelsea?
He isn't as strong tracking back defensively, which is his only glaring weakness. But even if that's enough for Mourinho to keep him out of the lineup for certain matchups, he's still a major weapon to have coming off the bench.
Furthermore, Chelsea have a busy campaign ahead, especially if they make deep runs in the various tournaments. Depth will be crucial when the schedule is at its busiest and injuries begin to mount. So Mata is going to get plenty of playing time. And that goes for his fellow midfielders, as well.
Regardless of his role and how often it changes throughout the campaign, Mata is going to find a way to make an impact. A title-contending club like Chelsea can never have enough of those type of players.
That's why Mourinho was smart to squash the transfer talk before it took on a life of its own.