The positivity was not always so abounding. Andre Villas Boas job at Chelsea was not an enviable one when he arrived in June. In particular the price tag on Fernando Torres was still firmly under scrutiny from those in the media. To break all previous British transfer records for a player is major news, taking over 900 minutes to score your first goal for that same club is far from the ideal start.
Played with Drogba and without him, Torres still struggled. He lacked the sharpness but he also lacked any real service. As obvious as it sounds, strikers need creators. This is of course where compatriot Juan Mata comes in. Joining the Premier League a year after former teammate David Silva he represents another example of the new inside winger. Not content with inhabiting the chalk lines of the pitch he prefers to drift around the pitch and inhabit pockets of space.
This in turn makes him difficult to pick up, as Everton discovered Saturday. Assigning him a man marker in turn compromises your teams shape. Attack is often the best form of defense provided you can exploit the flank he often departs. Of course chances are few and far between for away teams at Stamford Bridge, especially when the man you are trying to stop is so often involved in the play.
Costing £23.5m you may expect such an emphatic impact. In an age of financial austerity amongst England’s biggest clubs, the fee seems fairly standard. Around that figure took James Milner to Manchester City, a few million more than that saw Andriy Shevchenko depart Milan for London, a questionable acquisition both at the time and upon reflection.
At 23, now was the ideal time for Mata - a long time admirer of English football to make his move. Little has been made of his rejection by Real Madrid, however the early setback serves as a testament to his character. Many players fail to recover from such dismissal, not Mata who instead has appeared to thrive from it. The son of a former professional, his Father (also Juan) spent his career with Real Oviedo amongst others and also operates as his sons agent.
Internationally, England fans should take note and potentially begin to worry, Mata doesn’t start for Spain. In fact despite making the World Cup squad for South Africa he spent the summer at Switzerland’s European U21 Championships. He is also likely to make Spain’s squad for this summer’s tournament, one would imagine on the back of an impressive showing for Chelsea - if the early form continues. As for his club situation, if Chelsea are to finish top of the Premier League, expect Mata to have played a large part of their success.