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Many of Thursday's national newspapers are reporting that Juan Mata has been told he is free to leave Chelsea after the Spaniard reacted negatively to being substituted during the New Year's Day win over Southampton.
Mata's difficulties in winning over Blues boss Jose Mourinho have been well documented, with the two-time Chelsea player of the year relegated to a backup role behind Mourinho's preferred No. 10, Oscar, for much of the campaign.
Being substituted after a rare start at St. Mary's clearly irked Mata, who was shown on television expressing his displeasure.
The papers believe he will be allowed to leave as a consequence.
The Daily Mail reported:
But Mourinho has now indicated that he will not stand in the Spaniard's way if he wants to leave Stamford Bridge.
Mourinho, clearly aware of his player's unhappiness, said: "I don’t want him to go, that is my opinion and that is my wish—but my door is open."
The Times (subscription required) noted that Mourinho's substitutions paid dividends—with Oscar and Willian replacing Mata and Andre Schurrle—suggesting the Spaniard may have later decided his boss made the right decision in the circumstances.
Matt Hughes writes:
The Chelsea manager’s bold decision to remove Mata and Andre Schurrle after only 53 minutes of a hard-fought contest changed the game, transforming a slog through a wet and windy bog into a carefree stroll to victory.
Mourinho has turned the double and occasionally triple substitution into an art form over the years, but even by his high standards, the introduction of Oscar and Willian was staggeringly effective. Having shown dissent to Mourinho by ignoring him on the touchline and slamming his seat as he took his place on the bench, Mata could have no complaints after watching Oscar’s dazzling contribution.
With the January transfer window open, it remains to be seen if a club tests the situation further. Paris Saint-Germain have been strongly linked with the playmaker in the past.