Chelsea F.C. manager Jose Mourinho has indicated that Spain international midfielder Juan Mata could have a new role at Stamford Bridge this season, according to Sky Sports.
Mata, who joined the Blues from Valencia CF in a deal worth £23.5 million in August 2011, has been voted Chelsea Player of the Year in each of his first two seasons at the club.
Somewhat surprisingly, the return of Mourinho has raised doubts on the future of the Spain international, whose current contract expires in the summer of 2016.
However, the Portuguese boss has moved to rubbish the aforementioned speculation, insisting Mata “fits into” his plans.
“Of course he fits into my plans,” Mourinho said. “I have my idea about him, about where he produces better and where he has more difficulty.
“We will try to help him perform better in those situations. I’ve always liked a right-sided player to be left-footed.
“I started with Robben and Duff, then Pandev at Inter, and Di Maria and Ozil. Many clubs do it. It’s more than a tendency.
“I like wingers coming in on the inside for the penetrative movement, for the pass, for the shot. And Juan is the only player we have to do that on the right.
“On the left we have Hazard, Victor Moses, Kevin De Bruyne, Andre Schurrle. Juan is also very comfortable playing as a No. 10. In between these two positions, he has a lot to give to the team.”
Mata was most effective when starting on the right side last season, posting an average match rating of 7.67 and tallying seven goals and nine assists in 14 matches, per WhoScored.com. Conclusion: Surely Mourinho has done his homework.
The Spain international, 25, bagged 20 goals and 28 assists in 64 appearances in all competitions for Chelsea last season.
Barry in the dark
Manchester City midfielder Gareth Barry has revealed the club have yet to offer him a new deal at the Etihad Stadium, Sky Sports understands.
Barry, who has just one year remaining on his current deal, joined City from Aston Villa for a transfer fee £12 million in the summer of 2009.
Over the past four seasons, the England international, 32, has been a first-team regular at City, but the recent arrival of Fernandinho has casted a rather large shadow of doubt on the future of the 32-year-old.
City did not spend £30 million on Fernandinho to play second fiddle to Barry, or anyone for that matter.
Subsequently, the England international could be relegated to the bench for much of the 2013/14 season, especially when considering the fact that Pellegrini can also choose Jack Rodwell and Javi Garcia in defensive midfield.
“It’s just a case of wait and see, as far as a new contract is concerned,” Barry told the Sunday Mirror.
“I haven’t heard anything about a new deal from the club, so it looks as though my contract will run out next summer and I’ll have to take it from there.
“The manager has spoken to me. He told me that he sees a place for me in his squad as he wants two quality players in every position.
“I’ve got to admit that, with Yaya Toure, Javi Garcia and now Fernandinho in the squad, it’s going to be tough for anyone to nail down a position in central midfield. I’m a bit disappointed that there’s been no offer, but I haven’t got myself too down about it.”
Barry, a reported target of Arsenal, scored two goals in 41 competitive appearances for Manchester City last term.