Under three different managers the player flourished, scoring six goals in his first season and twelve in his second, winning both the Champions and Europa league.
Mata collected back to back Chelsea Player of the Year awards, with both the fans and the critics alike having nothing but praise for an exceptional and humble player.
So when Mata stepped out in the red shirt of Manchester United this January, the Chelsea faithful were not the only ones wondering how it had gone so wrong in only half a season.
As Sir Alex Ferguson would say, no player is bigger than the manager and Chelsea’s returning man at the helm agreed.
Jose Mourinho returned to Chelsea after a successful stint around Europe and knowing the high expectation, and turnover associated with the role, Mourinho applied his own tactics to the squad which saw him favour Oscar as his playmaker, meaning Mata found himself increasingly benched and fighting for his place.
Over the course of five months, Mata made only eleven league starts and the rumblings of discontent were getting louder.
This seemed to come to a head when Mata was substituted on New Year’s day against Southampton leaving the pitch visibly frustrated.
With United’s season in tatters, and the January transfer window open, manager David Moyes needed to make a statement of intent and sure enough he did when on the 25th of January he signed Mata for a club record breaking fee of £37.1 million.
Unhappy with the changes at Chelsea and a World Cup place to fight for this summer, transferring to the current league champions made perfect sense.
Mata made his first start against Cardiff City pairing up with striker Robin Van Persie.
The Red Devils won 2-0 recording their second Premier League win of 2014.
Mata’s performance was instrumental to the win and supporters began to believe that this was a turning point in their season.
Well, until their away game against Stoke.
The trinity of Van Persie, Mata and Wayne Rooney was put to the test and by all accounts, for so much talent the performance should have been better.
United lost 2-1 proving that it was not only time that was needed, but some more squad adjustments before huge improvements were to be seen.
There have been instances of top players, Fernando Torres comes to mind, who transfer for a big fee and then never produce like they used to but Juan Mata in his first two games for United has already displayed the qualities, namely his talent for assisting the striker that made him so popular at Chelsea.
If Moyes can employ a formation that utilises all of the ‘trinity’s’ strong points then United should have an immense amount of firepower, hopefully enough to start climbing that table, then all they need is to sort out that back four, and keep everyone fit. Simple.
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