The Spaniard's recurrent exclusion from Chelsea's lineup has become a peculiar episode of this current Premier League season. Many have criticised the Special One's treatment of his club's Player of the Year, but Mata, it appears, is ready to listen.
Woods quotes a source close to the player as saying:
He is going to knuckle down and try harder. If he is given a chance, he will take it. He accepts Mourinho has a point, especially when his stats are compared to the likes of Oscar and Eden Hazard.
Mata has, of course, been central to Chelsea's play for the past two seasons and integral to their recent Champions League and Europa League successes. He scored 12 Premier League goals last year, second most at Stamford Bridge, and also contributed 12 assists, the most in England.
However, it seems Mourinho—on a four-year contract—is building a foundation for the Blues' future, something not all of his predecessors had the confidence or assurances to look to.
Cup success is certainly important but his current Chelsea project will be judged on his Premier League return as well as European ventures.
While the Blues have certainly prospered on the continent, their domestic form has been poor for their considerable financial status, with distant third- and sixth-place finishes well below par.
As impressive as Mata has looked individually during these past campaigns, as his side's No. 10, his presence hasn't resulted in any kind of consistency for his team—consistency Mourinho clearly feels Oscar has a better chance of producing, for now.
Steve Holland, assistant to Mourinho at Stamford Bridge, offered further insight to Martin Lipton in the Daily Mirror:
If you look at Jose and his teams, certainly the last team at Real Madrid with (Cristiano) Ronaldo, Mesut Ozil, Angel Di Maria and Karim Benzema, there were four quality players as an attacking four.
When the balance is loaded offensively, you don't just play with the ball but without it as well. He managed that at Real, clearly, given the results he had. With Ronaldo, if you look at the three-year period under Jose, he's evolved as an individual.
He's not just a dribbler, but a top level match winner who can run in behind, make runs and threaten the goal. That comes with pushing, even pushing the best.
Clearly the door isn't shut for Mata; the message is very simple. He must adapt his game, primarily off the ball, or remain on the periphery.
So often this type of prolonged stand-off results in an unceremonious exit and several heated exchanges, but it seems Mata will provide a refreshing exception.
The Spaniard is willing to end this protracted affair amicably, and alter his ways—something that's sure to benefit Chelsea, Mourinho and the Premier League.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!