Juan Mata will be 30 years old by the time the current season ends.
His prime years are – perhaps – coming to an end. He has played for Valencia, won the Champions League with Chelsea, and is now an underrated, but highly important, player for Manchester United.
His career has peaked already, it seems. His time at Manchester United has been a good step for him, but it has been largely as a bit part player.
Even though he has so often provided in big moments and his goal tally will take many by surprise, Mata has been a member of a team – and often a pretty dysfunctional one at that – rather than the star.
Thrived at Chelsea
The limitations to his game are well publicised, but the Spaniard thrived when Chelsea built their team around him.
His interchanging with Eden Hazard and Oscar was some of the best football the Premier League has seen in the last decade, and he delivered goals and assists at a spectacular rate.
He was Chelsea’s key man. He was one of the best attacking midfielders in the world.
Capable of anything
When allowed to play centrally in a team that looks to him as their primary creator, Mata is capable of anything.
The Spaniard’s passing is as good as anyone’s in the Premier League, and there are few cooler finishers.
A Premier League winners’ medal will come if he remains at Manchester United under Jose Mourinho, but to see the best of Mata he must look to move away next summer.
Needs for a fresh start
The need for a fresh start is only heightened by the likelihood of further attacking signings.
Already below Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba in the pecking order to play in his best position, Mata is at risk of being marginalised.
The Spaniard is a joy to watch, and football will be benefit from seeing him in full flow as the key man once again.
Written by Sam Cox
Follow Sam on Twitter @SamRCox_
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