Liverpool Transfer Rumours: Why Juan Mata Should Be the Reds' No. 1 Target
Now that Jordan Henderson has been unveiled as the newest Liverpool player, it is time to look ahead at the club's top summer priorities.
With Manchester United landing Phil Jones and on the brink of signing Ashley Young, manager Kenny Dalglish will have to look at other options to bolster the current squad.
Henderson was a terrific acquisition for the club, bringing in top-quality, young English talent. However, the Reds still lack that natural winger to play on the left flank.
Aston Villa's Stewart Downing, Wigan's Charles N'Zogbia and Barcelona's Jeffren are wide players that have been linked with Liverpool in recent weeks.
Although the aforementioned players would be great additions to Dalglish's squad, the one player Liverpool should be fighting to sign plays for Valencia.
Spanish international Juan Mata should be the Reds' No. 1 target this summer.
Here are five reasons why the winger should be Dalglish's top priority.
The 23-year-old Valencia winger has outstanding pace and quickness.
Mata is an explosive wide player, which allows him to create separation from the opposition. The Spaniard can lose defenders with his great acceleration from a standstill. Although he might not have the blistering pace of a Theo Walcott, he shows exceptional agility in tight spaces.
Dalglish would deploy Mata on the left side of a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 formation. While there are concerns over his size and strength, the Spaniard makes up for his lack of physicality with speed and determination.
The Valencia winger has a great work ethic for a wide player, staying discipline and tracking back defensively. With his pace and work rate, Mata will surely become a fan favorite at Anfield.
Although Mata is not a goal-scoring winger in the mold of Cristiano Ronaldo, the Spaniard has shown that he knows how to find the back of the net.
Dating back to his days with Real Madrid Castilla, Mata has consistently delivered around 10 goals per season. His finishing ability makes him one of the most feared wingers in Spanish football. With the winger's pace, he is always a danger to play a quick one-two around the box and blister a shot on goal.
While Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll will be responsible for providing the majority of Liverpool's goals next season, Dalglish will be looking for scoring production from other positions as well. Mata would give the Reds a dangerman down the left-flank, capable of getting into the box in support of the two strikers.
Although Mata may find it more difficult to score in the EPL, he has the ability to deliver five to eight goals next season.
Technique and Skill
Mata's technical ability is nothing short of world class.
Although the Valencia winger may not be the most physically imposing player, he is phenomenal with the ball at his feet. Mata boasts exceptional close control and a soft touch on the ball. The Spaniard has become known for possessing one of the sweetest left feet in La Liga.
The Valencia star is a technically gifted winger, with great dribbling at pace and outstanding skill. Mata's impressive technique allows him to play an elegant, attractive style of football. He often uses one or two touches, combining well with teammates.
While the current Liverpool squad has several players with great technique, such as talismanic captain Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez, a player of Mata's skill and class would be a perfect addition. The Spaniard's level of technical ability would give the Reds a different dimension in the attack.
Dalglish's men play tend to play direct football. Although Mata does not fit in that mold, the Spaniard would bring skillful attacking qualities that the club has been lacking. The Valencia winger would be a dynamic threat for the Reds on the left flank, providing technical ability to balance Liverpool's style of play.
The Spaniard's versatility distinguishes him as the No. 1 target Liverpool should sign this summer.
While players such as Stewart Downing can operate on either flank, Mata can play in the center of the park as well. Although the Valencia star is most comfortable out wide, he is equally adept playing in behind a striker or as an attacking central midfield playmaker.
Since Dalglish has taken charge at Anfield, the Reds have experimented with multiple formations. With the money invested in Suarez and Carroll, it is expected that both players will start as a striking pair. However, the Reds could also play a 4-3-3 formation, with Carroll as the targetman and Suarez pulling out wide.
With Dalglish's ongoing project, the club will be looking to sign players that can play more than one position. Mata's versatility will give the manager a left winger in a standard 4-4-2, or a more forward threat in an attacking trio. The Spaniard would be an excellent addition to an ever-evolving Liverpool squad.
Although Liverpool have quality players throughout the first-team squad, the Reds lack a true creative threat. Mata could be the clever and inventive player to return the club to domestic and European glory.
Joe Cole did not live up to expectations at Anfield, and was largely insignificant last season. With the Englishman's likely departure for Tottenham, the club does not have a creative first-team player.
Liverpool need to sign a talented, clever player to give the team a different dimension in the final third. Mata would bring ingenuity and imagination to a squad that primarily plays a simple, direct style of football. The Spaniard could be the player to unlock defenses and provide a creative spark for the Reds.
Dalglish is only a few key additions away from challenging for a Champions League place next season, and an EPL title as well. Liverpool will be looking to sign a top-quality left-back to provide some consistency and solidity to the defense. However, Dalglish must find a player that will operate on the left wing. The Valencia winger would be the ideal fit for a Liverpool squad that needs his creativity, versatility and skill.
While left back is a serious area of concern for the Reds, Mata should be the club's No. 1 target this summer.