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ONLY A MATA OF TIME? – Will Juan still be the man for Valencia? | El Centrocampista
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El Centrocampista

ONLY A MATA OF TIME? – Will Juan still be the man for Valencia?

By Archie Buck

On Tuesday 28 July 2008 David Villa stressed his love for Valencia and told how he envisaged finishing his career at the club. A year later he was a Barcelona player.

Last week Juan Mata told the world he was a Valencia player and he was happy, unfortunately for Valencia fans he didn’t say much else.

Thursday was Mata’s first training session since returning from the Under-21 Championships and speculation has been rife that the player’s four year stay at the Mestella could soon be over.

The 23-year-old’s form over the past two years has made him one of La Liga’s hottest prospects with a host of European clubs reportedly chasing his services.

A brace against Barcelona in the 2008 Copa del Rey first brought him to prominence outside Spain and he went on to finish that season second in the assists chart, just behind Barcelona’s Xavi Hernandez.

Juan Mata could face big decisions over his future

There is no doubting his star quality; he really has filled the hole left by the two Davids – Silva and Villa.

The speculation over his future has become so intense that on Monday last week, Valencia’s president Manuel Llorente stated that Juan Mata was not for sale at any price.

However this is a fairly standard response to any transfer speculation regarding a big player.

Whether or not Mata leaves this summer is not going to be affected by that statement, if the interest is still there.

Mata himself is not a true Valencia man; he is not a Fernando Torres who had a strong emotional bond with Atlético.

I do not doubt his commitment or loyalty, but both of these attributes are finite.

He knows clubs are interested and this could be his chance at stardom, who knows, next year we could be talking about a different up and coming star player.

Valencia are still reforming, they are not going to be investing heavily for a good few years.

The only realistic hope for silverware they have is the Copa del Rey, Mata already has a winners medal.

He is at a pivotal point in his career and a big decision lies ahead.

In my opinion only a move to the following clubs would be a step up from Valencia.

Barcelona, Real Madrid, Inter, Ac Milan, Chelsea, Manchester City or Manchester United.

I would include Juventus and Liverpool, they are at a similar level to Valencia but are investing and so the potential for future trophies is high.

I discount Arsenal purely on the fact that no one knows where they will be next season, all the teams around them are getting better and better, if Cesc leaves it could be a terrible season in North London.

Until last night this article was going to be aimed at stating why I didn’t see a move going through.

I had outlined Arsenal as the only team that I saw could be genuinely interested.

I ruled out Chelsea, United, Barca and Madrid, due to their lack of need for a player of Mata’s type.

I also ruled out Italy as a viable step in Mata’s career, I think he belongs to the Premier League or La Liga.

I had then doubted very much the interest of City and Liverpool.

Liverpool surely have ended their hunt for a wide left player after the purchase of Downing.

I also feel that Mancini would struggle to fit Mata into the current system at City and don’t feel it would benefit the player.

I saw Arsenal as the only real contenders but felt that there had to be change with the Nasri situation for them to seriously consider it.

Last night things changed a little when Guillem Balague, a man normally not far off the mark, reported that Arsenal still had interest in the player.

He also claimed that Valencia would accept 18 million euros.

That is vastly less than most had expected the selling point to be. This makes a move to Arsenal far more viable.

I think Mata will be interested, as I have said he appears to be willing to consider options.

In my opinion it is not a good move for him. Arsenal are currently a club in great uncertainty.

The ongoing saga over their talismanic captain Cesc Fabregas, is threatening to derail the Gunner’s season before it even starts and there are also doubts over other players at the club.

Samir Nasri has set his stall and wants to leave and players like Andrei Arshavin and Marouane Chamakh appear to be losing interest.

The defence, a major concerns at times last season, has not been strengthened and that should be a worry.

I just feel that a move to Arsenal is too much a risk and could backfire heavily on Mata.

What if after a season at the Emirates he seeks new pastures. The options become even more limited.

It doesn’t look like any of the top “five” teams in Europe are going to bid for him.

In my opinion Liverpool would have been his best option if they had come in. As it stands they still might, you never know with Kenny’s Dalglish’s transfer policy.

If , come the end of August the only option available to Juan Mata is a move to Arsenal or remain at los Che, I believe it would be beneficial for him to dig in for another season, then look to move next summer.

I think Valencia fans have to accept, unless something drastically changes in the financial state of the club, that is not a question of if Mata leaves, more a question of when.




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