Ivanovic backs Mata to pursue key role at Chelsea
Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic insists Juan Mata can still play a key role at the club this season. Ivanovic believes his Spanish teammate has the ability to settle down according to the needs of manager Jose Mourinho. The Serbian defender claims Mata is “one of the best quality players in the [Premier] League”, which is why he is bound to return to action soon.
Talking to reporters after Serbia’s 3-0 victory over Wales in Cardiff, Ivanovic shrugged off reports about Mata being marginalized for the season from the Chelsea squad. Ivanovic believes the No. 10 will return strongly under Mourinho and will prove to be huge help in pushing for major honors.
“Of course [he is important],” Ivanovic said. “He's a player who was one of the best in the last two years. He came back late from the summer, but he's had the time to work now. He's a guy who is really important for us and for the team.
“It's important for him to train hard, keep going and use every chance [he has]. I always said that, for me, Mata is one of the best quality players in the league. He has a brilliant touch, and he's a brilliant guy.”
Ivanovic believes no one in Chelsea’s midfield should take their place for granted. The deep talent pool at the club has made sure everyone is on their toes all the time. Ivanovic also feels that Kevin De Bruyne, who returned from a successful spell at Werder Bremen this summer, will become a featured player at Chelsea.
“Kevin has refreshed our frontline,” Ivanovic added. “He has some different qualities to the other guys, some important things, and I think he's one of the guys who is most important for us in the attacking (part of the game). He is someone who can change a game, decide a game.”
Ivanovic sees the Premier League restarting with an explosion following two weeks of break due to international duty. The former Lokomtiv Moscow defender has urged his teammates to return to action with their best form against Everton this weekend.
“It's very important that we put this international break behind us now and look forward,” Ivanovic said. “We're expecting four very important Premier League games plus a [Capital One] cup game, plus the Champions League games. So we have to be ready, and switch on quickly because the Premier League can't wait.”