Chelsea Transfer Rumours: Antoine Griezmann Offers Different Threat to Juan Mata

Nick AkermanFeatured ColumnistJanuary 23, 2014

GETAFE, SPAIN - JANUARY 19: Antoine Griezmann of Real Sociedad controls the ball during the La Liga match between Getafe SAD and Real Sociedad de Futbol at Coliseum Alfonso Perez on January 19, 2014 in Getafe, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Jose Mourinho is reportedly looking to replace Juan Mata with the signing of Antoine Griezmann from Real Sociedad, a player who offers a completely different threat to the outgoing Spaniard.

As reported by Rob Beasley and Neil Custis of the Sun (subscription required) via Chris Richards of the Mirror, Chelsea are ready to offer Griezmann a chance to shine in the Premier League:

Jose Mourinho reportedly wants to sign Real Sociedad's Antoine Griezmann after offloading Juan Mata to Manchester United.

Mata is set to complete his £37 million club-record move from Chelsea to Old Trafford today - and according to The Sun, Blues manager Mourinho will use some of this money on a raid for £24 million-rated French star Griezmann.

Griezmann is undoubtedly enjoying his best season so far, but despite shining in La Liga, it is likely the 22-year-old will need time to develop alongside the English style of play.

He offers an alternative, more direct approach to Mata. Griezmann is quicker and more penetrative when dribbling, but his distribution is less tidy than Chelsea's two-time Player of the Season.

Let's take a look at a statistical comparison for the current campaign:

Antoine Griezmann vs. Juan Mata, 2013-14 Statistical Comparison
NameStarts in domestic league and Europe (sub appearances)GoalsAssistsPass Completion RateAvg. Dribbles CompletedTurnovers
Antoine Griezmann23 (1)12277.3 percent0.81.3
Juan Mata12 (3)0287.9 percent0.81.1

Digging a little deeper, Mata's crossing is far superior to Griezmann's. The former Valencia player has completed 1.8 successful crosses and 2.3 accurate long balls per appearance, while Griezmann stumbles with two statistics that come in at 0.7.

Statistical evidence suggests Mata is the tidier player, the individual who is more likely to play a killer ball than skip round two defenders and score. This is absolutely backed up by their individual styles on the pitch, where their individual qualities both shine brighter than numbers.

Lefteris Pitarakis/Associated Press

Griezmann has exclusively played on the left this campaign, cutting inside and utilising short passes to continue his runs into the box. He is comfortable on the left flank or in a more advanced position, but he is able to work defensively if called upon. He averages 1.9 tackles and 0.7 interceptions per game, while Mata posts just 1.1 and 0.2.

The young Frenchman is not a natural defender, but he is the type of player Jose Mourinho could develop into a successful operator across the length of his flank, much like we're seeing with Eden Hazard this season.

Mata's lack of defensive contribution has played a huge part in Mourinho deciding to move the player on, per David Hytner of The Guardian. However, he is the more versatile individual, as noted by Bleacher Report guest columnist and Sky Sports pundit Guillem Balague:

As Chelsea fans know, Mata is the kind of player who is more likely to influence the game with a sharp turn or well-taken set piece than a burst of speed. Griezmann has the attributes to be far more direct. He is more of an Eden Hazard-type in the sense that when he fails to get beyond his marker, he is likely to try again.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 19:  Eden Hazard of Chelsea is challenged by Phil Jones (L) and Chris Smalling (R) of Manchester United during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on January 19, 2014 in Lond
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

This is also true for Willian, who joins Hazard and Oscar in an attacking midfield triumvirate for the Blues. Powerful, pacey running is natural to the first two, while Mourinho's eagerness to instill a sense of hard work into their game allows the players to utilise their natural attributes for football's thankless tasks. 

Oscar's ability to dictate from central positions, without possessing lightning speed or overpowering physicality, is another reason why Mata has received limited opportunities this campaign.

SAN SEBASTIAN, SPAIN - OCTOBER 27:  Antoine Griezmann of Real Sociedad de Futbol celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the La Liga match between Real Sociedad de Futbol and UD Almeria at Estadio Anoeta on October 27, 2013 in San Sebastian
David Ramos/Getty Images

It seems Griezmann would be a more natural fit for Mourinho's current style. He has the technical ability to slot right in, but he still needs to develop if he is to oust any of the aforementioned trio from their starting role.

Mata's goalscoring and assists stats are certainly depleted due to his inconsistent playing time, but it's the details that will make a difference to Mourinho.

The Portuguese boss obviously feels Mata is beyond changing if he is willing to let the player join Manchester United, per BBC Sport. However, if he opts to sign Griezmann, the former Real Madrid manager can mould him into the image he believes will bring success.