Juan Mata pivotal to Chelsea’s success and formation – Rafael Benitez
Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez finally revealed why he is reluctant to play both Demba Ba and Fernando Torres together in the attack. The interim boss claims Juan Mata’s exceptional form has forced him to bench one of the two strikers. Rafael Benitez has also urged authorities to consider the attacking midfielder for player of the season.
Juan Mata has undoubtedly been one of the best players in the Premier League this season. The 24-year-old attacking midfielder, who generally plays in the heart of the attack, has been fielded as a secondary wing forward by Rafael Benitez.
With 18 goals and 24 assists to boast about, Juan Mata is probably Chelsea’s best player this season.
“I explained before, we have strikers who are doing well, both [of them],” Rafael Benitez said. “At the same time, we have a line of three players behind the strikers who are quite offensive, score goals and have an impact in the games.
“If you change the shape, you have to change these players, players who can be very influential in the game like Mata, who's done well in the middle but would have to go wide. Can you be sure it would be better?
“We had to do something on Sunday and keep those influential players on the pitch, but it can be difficult sometimes. It's an option, but it depends on the other team, your team.
“[Eden] Hazard, Oscar, Mata, [Yossi] Benayoun... they can play in the middle and they can all score goals. It's just Mata who's scoring goals and giving assists at the moment, a player who has 18 goals and 29 assists.
“Over the whole season, analyze his performances, and he should be considered [for player of the year] for sure. He's played a lot of games, a lot of goals and assists. To have played two games every week for months, he's been so good.
“If you analyze games and players in the Premier League, you have good players in every team. Mata is our player and he's doing really well, a very good professional, and his numbers are fantastic.”
Rafael Benitez admits Juan Mata never fails to surprise him. The former Liverpool manager claims he knows Juan Mata well, yet he is often left in awe by the midfielder’s exceptional talents, especially in four-on-one training possession games.
“The quality he did was amazing,” Juan Mata added. “He did it in a video with the national team. He's done it in training here, two or three times... I won't say [who]. He did it in training today, and he's done it in other sessions as well. Game intelligence is key. He's very clever, he finds space and has quality, vision.”