Two of Chelsea’s biggest names, Juan Mata and Petr Cech, are linked to one of the world’s greatest football clubs, Barcelona, but the move should only appeal to the latter when an anticipated bid emerges.
The Spanish giants will reportedly make an approach for the Chelsea duo—Mata most likely in January, and Cech next summer—if Jose Mourinho is willing to negotiate with a club that has become his enemy.
Mundo Deportivo reports, per Gary Jones of the Daily Star, that Mata is not happy with his lack of game time at Chelsea:
This has alerted Barca, who are now reportedly weighing up a bid for the star in the winter transfer window.
The deal’s success will hinge on how many games Mata is allowed to start in, and whether the Nou Camp will have the funds to strengthen their forward line and defensive positions.
Mata has featured in only one of Chelsea’s three Premier League games so far this season. A thigh injury was partially blamed, per the Metro's Gavin Brown, yet he was fit enough for the bench at Manchester United and still did not play any part in the match.
The problem for Mata is that he would find a very similar scenario awaits him at Barcelona.
Currently vying with Willian, Oscar, Kevin De Bruyne, Andre Schurrle and Eden Hazard for a starting spot with Chelsea, at Barca he would find the names of Lionel Messi, Pedro, Neymar, Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas, Xavi and Alexis Sanchez.
Breaking those Barcelona names down, Messi and Neymar can be viewed as certainties for the forward positions once the Brazilian settles, leaving Pedro, Alexis, Mata and a raft of talented youngsters like Cristian Tello to fight for the final spot.
Dropping deeper into the midfield, there is Sergio Busquets, who is a guaranteed starter when fit. Iniesta is set for a new contract, per BBC Sport. Xavi remains a class act and focal point of the team. Meanwhile, Fabregas proved invaluable amid several summer approaches from Manchester United.
Xavi, at the age of 33, will soon retire. However, his role is too deep for Mata to fill as a like-for-like replacement, so the Chelsea man would likely set himself up for more bench time.
Cech, who is tipped to move to Spain by James Dickenson of the Daily Express, is into his 10th year at Stamford Bridge and is still a hugely reliable performer. However, he is blocking the path of young talent Thibaut Courtois to the No. 1 jersey.
Courtois has carved out an excellent reputation on loan at Atletico Madrid, keeping 20 clean sheets in 37 outings last term, per Squawka. However, he is unlikely to consistently accept his temporary status, which has stretched into a third year.
Cech would be the undisputed No. 1 at Barcelona, with Victor Valdes set to leave at the end of the current campaign, per John Drayton of the Daily Mail. He would also be an improvement on the current Camp Nou custodian, who provides an erratic figure behind a penetrable defence.
Having won the Premier League title, FA Cup, Champions League and Europa League—among several other trophies—with Chelsea, there remains little left for Cech to accomplish.
A new challenge at Barcelona at the age of 32 (next summer), he could still give the best part of half a decade or more to the Catalan side. The move would arguably benefit both clubs, strengthening the Spanish champions while beckoning in the future (Courtois) at Chelsea.
For Mata, there is a feeling of unfinished business. The club’s 2012/13 Player of the Season is yet to win a league title in England and has not had chance to show Mourinho what he can do.
For Cech, his work is done. And a swansong at arguably the world’s greatest club, in a sunny climate, makes all the sense in the world.