Chelsea Transfer News: Players Jose Mourinho Must Target to Replace Juan Mata

Jason Pettigrove@@jaypetti1971Contributor IJanuary 24, 2014

The Special One has his pick of special players to replace Juan Mata.
The Special One has his pick of special players to replace Juan Mata.Scott Heppell/Associated Press

With the sale of Juan Mata to Manchester United almost complete (according to BBC Sport), Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho will be looking to bring in a certain type and caliber of player to replace the Spaniard.

The Special One has-been unequivocal in his defense of Mata's departure, the £37 million move coming as a surprise to fans who voted Mata as Player of the Year for the last two consecutive seasons.

According to Sam Wallace of the Independent , Mourinho had very clear reasons to rubber stamp the transfer:

We press very high on the pitch.

My attacking players have big distances to run between the initial pressure and the way they compact with the defensive players.

As Wallace points out, these are not things that come naturally to Mata. Therefore, clearly, any incoming player will need to possess the specific qualities that the Portuguese desires, rather than a like-for-like swap for Mata.

Let's take a look at three players who could provide the spark to a Blues title tilt. 


Mohamed Salah

Dubbed the "Egyptian Messi", there is barely a weakness in Salah's all-round game, and at just 21 he has the footballing world at his feet.

Chelsea have firsthand experience of the threat possessed by the youngster. The Egyptian scored three times in four games against the Blues in 2013, leading his side to victory in both Champions League encounters this season.

His blistering pace is allied to a wonderful ability to retain control of the ball, even at top speed. Ewan Roberts of notes:

He is quicker than any player the Blues boast in their front line and, as Petr Cech will attest, has a knack for preying on the last man, darting in behind defenses and finishing with aplomb.


He's a natural wide man, unlike so many of Chelsea's attackers, capable of playing on either flank, and his pace will terrorize tired defenses on the counterattack.

That speed and directness makes him a perfect weapon off the bench in a side That has occasionally required a spark of invention and je ne sais quoi.

It's not only in attack where the Basel man excels. Salah's defensive work-rate is well noted, and it is this area of his game that may potentially persuade Mourinho that Salah is worth the outlay.

Of Chelsea's current attackers, only Oscar has made more successful tackles this season than Salah, and the Egyptian is third only to Darijo Srna of Shakhtar Donetsk and Porto's Fernando for recovery in the Champions League.


Diego Costa

Atletico Madrid's Diego Costa is an entirely different proposition, but certainly a player to excite the Stamford Bridge faithful.

A fearsome "bull" of a center-forward, Costa has been the form player in La Liga this season.

Only two goals behind Cristiano Ronaldo's 21 in La Liga (per ESPN) and with 23 in 23 games in all competitions, Costa has struck up a scintillating partnership with ex-Barcelona front man David Villa.

The finesse and guile of Villa has been a perfect foil for the hustling, harrying and direct running of Costa.

In many respects the modern Brazilian is the complete forward, and with all of the attributes of a typical English No. 9.

Powerful and extremely difficult to shake off the ball, he is deceptively quick for a big man and from a standing start explosive.

While Costa could solve the Blues seemingly never-ending striker crisis, he is also capable of playing in the wide areas that Mata often occupied.

Diego Simeone has often employed him in a wide right position with a license to roam infield, something he did to wonderful effect when latching on to kill ex-teammate Radamel Falcao's pass in last season's Copa Del Rey final.

Another who is not averse to tracking back when required to defend, Costa is a real work horse and will endear himself to Blues supporters in an instant.


Antoine Griezmann

Another star of La Liga, Real Sociedad's Antoine Griezmann is another proposition altogether.

The Frenchman has lit up the Spanish and Champions Leagues with his mixture of skill, hard work and goalscoring ability.

Used out wide on the left side at Sociedad  a return of 12 goals in 17 La Liga appearances (per is a more than satisfactory return.

His technical ability is self evident and will offer Mourinho a different option to that which he already possesses in his squad.

There should not be too many complaints if the youngster is next through the revolving door at Stamford Bridge.