The next big things and the players to look for
While his higher profile team-mates, Davids Silva and Villa are continuously being linked with moves to the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea in the English press, very little seems to be being said about Juan Mata.
The 21-year-old’s performances for Valencia have been as big a factor in helping the financially stricken club to third place in La Liga at the halfway stage as those of Villa or Silva, yet he still seems to not quite enjoy the same recognition on these shores.
However he's probably used to not getting the credit he deserves, having been let go by Real Madrid after they refused to offer him a contract
Last summer, Fernando Torres named Mata as the kind of player he’d like to see arrive at Anfield, perhaps blissfully ignorant of the Reds’ limited transfer budget at the time, and only last month his name was briefly being linked with Liverpool again.
Mata plays primarily on the left wing, but is versatile enough to operate in any attacking position.
Already one of Los Che’s star turns, despite his tender age, Mata possesses the intelligence, pace and finishing ability to establish himself as a key player for the Spanish national team, too.
FourFourTwo contributor and La Liga Loca blogger Tim Stannard gives us more back ground on rising Valencia star.
He looks a little bit like Luke Young doesn't he...?
Name Juan Mata Age 21Position Winger/ForwardNationality Spanish Club ValenciaGames 26 Goals 7 (all comps, this season)
If David Villa had been lured from Mestalla by the millions of Real Madrid last summer, then it would have been very bad news indeed for Valencia.
But it would have been even worse had Juan Mata not been around as his brilliant back-up.
It would be an insult to damn the Valencia player with the praise of being a ‘promising’ player. Juan Mata is not promising anything. He’s delivering.
Eleven league goals last season and three strikes in four appearances for Spain in their World Cup qualifying campaign sees Mata’s gamble in 2007 of leaving Real Madrid’s youth system as being a great one.
The forward has had an extraordinary couple of seasons for club and country - both of which have taken full advantage of his incredible attacking versatility.
Batman's new costume was cheaper than the previous effort...Used primarily on the left hand side of a front three by Valencia, the two-footed Mata is equally at home on the opposite flank or as an out-and-out striker, his original playing position.
The Burgos-born footballer’s uncanny coolness in the box is a basic guarantee of goals.
Like a number of Spanish players in what is a truly golden generation, Mata uses speed, skill and sorcery to outfox the opposition rather than brute-force and bulk.
And this is why he is a near-certainty to be on Spain’s plane to South Africa in 2010.
As David Villa said of the team-mate who is set to follow in his formidable footsteps in the seasons to come, “the future that Juan Mata has is infinite.”
Talentspotter ratings:Heading - 6Crossing - 7Tackling - 5Creativity - 8Passing - 8Work-rate - 9 Shooting - 8Pace - 7Dribbling – 7Overall – 8
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Liverpool should and will dream on
Teams will do well to recognise the players who support the more highly praised players like Villa and Silva. The players who work tirelessly behind the scenes when a big name player is playing will often stand out on their own if given the chance. Mata has already shown he is a player with quality and his future appears set to be bright.
Juan Mata in english is translated to roughly "John Kills"... but why go after Mata, go after Banega, he's all that and a bowl of chips!
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