10 Football Attributes Juan Manuel Mata Possesses
Born on the 28th of April 1988 in the city of Oviedo, Juan Manuel Mata started his career in Real Madrid’s youth ranks in 2004 before stepping up to Real Madrid Castilla two years later.
In his time at Castilla, the left-footed youngster made 35 Liga Adelante appearances and scored 10 goals, but that was his last act as a Real Madrid player because Valencia CF snapped him up on a free transfer.
In the Mestalla, Mata has flourished as a player and has been very consistent for the Spanish outfit. In his first season at the club, he made 24 Liga BBVA appearances and scored 5 goals. In his second season in Valencia, he was ever-present for the club and missed only one league match all season long, scoring 11 in the process.
Mata became a household name in Valencia after the club’s biggest assets, David Villa and David Silva, were sold after seasons of courtship from many suitors.
On the International scene, Spain is a country that is blessed with a vast array of talent in midfield so Mata has featured sparingly for the nation, but he got his debut against Turkey on the 28th of March, 2009. He has played only 11 games for Spain and has scored four goals, but he has featured for the country in all available youth levels with the highest amount of appearances at the Under-21 level.
Mata hasn’t won anything at club level, but the three medals he has amassed have been won in the national team colors of Spain. In 2006, he won the European Under-19 Championships before winning the 2010 World Cup with Spain last summer. He was voted as the MVP in the recently concluded European Under-21 Championships that took place in Scandinavia. Spain also emerged as the winners of that tournament.
Mata had been on the radar of Arsenal Football Club and had been touted as the potential replacement for Arsenal’s departing captain, Francesc Fabregas.
Here’s my take on the top 10 footballing attributes possessed by Juan Manuel Mata.
Mata is a very skillful player who is never afraid to take on his man. The fact that he’s a left-footed player makes it extremely difficult for defenders to come up against him because left-footers have this knack for an unpredictable style of dribbling.
FC Bayern and Holland’s Arjen Robben is a classic example of the ideal dribbler. You can’t also talk about left-footed dribblers without mentioning the world’s best player, Lionel Messi.
Judging by Mata’s overall statistics in his days in Real Madrid Castilla and Valencia, he has played 168 league games, and he has smashed the net 43 times.
Bear it in mind that Mata is a player that cuts in from the wings or plays behind the main striker, so this goals-to-games ratio is very good.
Even the video game Football Manager 2011 gave him a finishing rating of 18/20!
Juan Mata has close control and can be a live wire with the ball at his feet. There are so many things he can do with the ball that would make you admire the beautiful game even more.
He also knows how to strike the ball sweetly. Only football “technicians” own such an attribute.
When Juan Mata is not with the ball, he’s a constant thorn in the flesh of many defenders because his off-the-ball movement is sleek.
From throw-ins to passes from a teammate, Mata is a player that can be backed to make himself available for a pass.
Standing with a frame of just 1.70m, Juan Mata is in the mold of players that have a low centre of gravity.
His feet tend to move more quickly than your average Joe, and he uses this attribute to his advantage.
He's the kind of player that likes a through ball well ahead of him because he can use his pace to good effect.
Juan Mata can be in the hole behind the striker and can assume the mantle of the attacking playmaker.
This is a role that he plays freely, and he has an eagle eye for a pass that can tear defenses open like a hot knife through butter.
This is a very powerful tool that has been an upper hand for many football teams from the days of Nasazzi in the 1930 World Cup.
Any team that has a player who is very versatile has a big bonus. A versatile player can be deployed in any of the available positions he's adept in to cover vacancies made by injuries.
Juan Mata is a striker that can play on the left wing. He's also very comfortable playing in the No. 10. Valencia has benefitted greatly from his versatility.
Juan Mata’s body movement is a class act, and he’s regarded as one of the most flamboyant wingers in Spain.
Villarreal’s Santi Cazorla and Manchester City’s David Silva also fall into that mold of flamboyant Spanish wingers.
Juan Mata is a very selfless individual who is never afraid to tee another teammate up to take the glory of a goal.
He plays with his eyes open because it’s already in his nature to feed a teammate when available.
There are so many strikers on the planet who have spurned one-on-one chances because of their lack of composure, but Mata is a player that picks his spot when he’s closing in on the opponent’s goalie.
Every lethal finisher in the football world has a high degree of composure attached to their play.
Ruud van Nistelrooy, Filippo Inzaghi, Hernan Crespo and Robin van Persie are a few names associated with composure in front of goal. All these strikers have that killer instinct and know where to put the ball before it gets to their feet. It’s pleasing to know that Mata is somewhere in the mix.
With a player as great as Francesc Fabregas now out of Arsenal, Mata is the best player to fill in his boots. A bid of at least £25m would have been more than enough to seal the deal for the Spanish youngster.
But it's now unfortunate to know that he's about to join Arsenal's rivals, Chelsea.
Wenger has missed out again.