What The Hell Happened To Juan Mata? | Stats, Records And Premier League Career

Quick question time: was Juan Mata a good signing for Manchester United? The Spaniard arrived at Old Trafford in January 2013 as one of the continent’s most highly-regarded playmakers, riding the wave of sympathies that had come with his sudden benchings at the hands of Jose Mourinho at Chelsea. He joined as David Moyes’ Titanic-esque project at United was beginning to show signs of springing a leak, and would go on to play under a further four managers for another nine and a half years. Check out SinkorSwimSports as we go through a collection of Juan Mata stats, records, best goals, and assists to see how his Premier League career slowly wound down. 

At A Glance: Juan Mata Stats

Full Name: Juan Manuel Mata García

D.O.B.: 28 April 1988 (age 34)

Place of Birth: Burgos, Spain

Position: Attacking Midfielder

Club: Galatasaray

Previous Clubs: Manchester United, Chelsea, Valencia, Real Madrid Castilla 

Premier League Appearances: 278

Premier League Goals: 51

Premier League Assists: 64

Justifying The Fee

Having spent four seasons at Valencia and becoming an integral cog for the Spanish national team, Juan Mata was one of the most admired playmakers in Europe in 2011. Bought for £23.5 million, the Spaniard instantly endeared himself to the Stamford Bridge faithful with a goal on his debut against Norwich on 27 August 2011.

His first season in the Premier League ended with 573 passes, 66 chances created and 14 – a tally only bettered by David Silva at Man City. In his final full season with the club, Mata would win both the Chelsea Players’ Player of the Season and Player of the Year awards, winning the latter of these in consecutive seasons. 

Jose Mourinho arrived back at Chelsea in the summer of 2013, and what followed was one of the first instances of his infamous fallings out with a club’s star talisman. In the first half of the 2013/14 season, Mata started just 11 of Chelsea’s 22 Premier League games, prompting heavy speculation about a possible move in the January transfer window. 

Juan Mata Chelsea Stats 

Premier League Appearances: 82

Premier League Starts: 71

Goals: 17 (0.25 per ninety) 

Assists: 27 (0.40 per ninety) 

Honors (Individual): Chelsea Player of the Year: 2011–12, 2012–13, Chelsea Players’ Player of the Year: 2012–13, Premier League Player of the Month: October 2012, PFA Team of the Year: 2012–13 Premier League

Honors (Club): FA Cup: 2011-12, UEFA Champions League: 2011-12, UEFA Europa League: 2012-13

Juan Mata Chelsea 2011-12
Juan Mata won the Chelsea Player of the Year award in his two full seasons at the club

United Arrival 

Juan Mata’s transfer to Manchester United was completed on 25 January 2014 with an infamous helicopter arrival and a then-club record fee of £37.1 million behind him. With the Red Devils floundering in the league, it was a fitting image of the Chelsea star being choppered in to save David Moyes’ job, but nevertheless gave United one of the few mood-lifters of the season. 

The Spaniard made his Man United debut on 28 January against Cardiff, instantly making an impact with an assist in a 2-0 win. His first goal came on 29 March against Aston Villa, the first of six he bagged in his first half season with the Red Devils. 

Flourishing Under Van Gaal

The Louis van Gaal era at Manchester United undoubtedly coincided with the best of Juan Mata’s stint with the club. The Spaniard scored in Van Gaal’s first Premier League win with the club against QPR in September 2014 and winners against Crystal Palace and Stoke in November and December respectively. 

However, it would be on 22 March 2015 that Mata would produce his finest performance for Man United. Having been set up by fellow Spaniard Ander Herrera for the opening goal in front of the Kop, Mata completed his brace at Anfield with a stunning bicycle kick that would go on to win the Premier League Goal of the Month award for March. 

The 2015/16 season brought a similar amount of steady goal contributions and some tidy performances, as well as Mata’s first taste of captaincy life, being given the armband for the game against Watford on 2 March 2016. 

Fittingly, Mata scored the penultimate goal in the Van Gaal era, bagging the equalizer in the 2016 FA Cup final against Crystal Palace. 

Mourinho Reunion

Jose Mourinho’s appointment as Manchester United manager in the summer of 2016 brought with it plenty of rumblings that Juan Mata’s days at the club could have been numbered. He was given the ‘bring on, hook back off’ treatment in Mourinho’s first game during the Community Shield, but would surprisingly continue to be a regular cog in the United machine over the next couple of seasons. 

Mata’s third Premier League brace for Man United came against Leicester on 23 December 2017, going on to make 28 Premier League appearances as United reached 2nd place in the table, their highest finish since their last title win in 2013. 

Juan Mata Man United 2016-17
Juan Mata scored 51 goals for Man United

Final Years 

During the waning months of the 2018/19 season, Mata’s future at the club came under scrutiny once again; minutes on the pitch had begun to drop, the Spaniard had reached the 30 age mark and the side looked like it was on the cusp of a hard refresh under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. 

But, on 19 June 2019, Mata signed a contract extension keeping him at the club until 2021. Manchester United are hardly the most ruthless club when it comes to moving on their players past their peak, and the Spaniard would become one of the biggest symbols of this stagnate approach to squad replenishment over the next couple of seasons. 

The 2019/20 season marked the first instance of the Spaniard making fewer than 20 Premier League appearances, and Mata would only play 16 more times in the league in the 2020/21 and 2021/22 campaigns. 

Relegated to mainly being a cup specialist, it was clear Mata’s physical peak was on a fast spiral downward. Nevertheless, with just weeks left ticking down on his final contract extension, interim coach Ralf Rangnick suddenly thrust the Spaniard into his starting plans. 

With the club in disarray on and off the pitch, Mata, who last played in the Premier League on 23 May 2021, played seven times in the final eight matches of the 2021/22 season, making two starts against Brentford and Brighton. 

Juan Mata Man United Stats

Premier League Appearances: 196

Premier League Starts: 149

Goals: 34 (0.24 per ninety) 

Assists: 27 (0.19 per ninety)

Honors (Club): FA Cup: 2015-16, FA Community Shield: 2016, EFL Cup: 2016-17, UEFA Europa League: 2016-17

How Good Was Juan Mata? 

The fact that Ralf Rangnick ended up rolling the dice with Juan Mata when the Spaniard was halfway through planning his retirement tour was both a testament to the state of Manchester United at the time, but also to how much one of Europe’s best playmakers had declined during his time with the club. 

Mata’s Manchester United career ended just how it had begun: being thrown in as a dependable professional to try and save a manager’s failing tenure. 

One of football’s ‘nice guys’, Mata’s Manchester United career was scuppered by the club’s failings in the transfer market, constantly being shoved around to make room for the latest big-money arrival. Had he not been so professional in making do with a seat on the bench, or playing in an unfamiliar position on the wing, he might have been better placed to bump up his numbers and find the spotlight a bit more often. 

Nevertheless, over 280 appearances for a club is hardly the typical number associated with a flop, and the moments of magic this model professional did produce during his eight and a half years with the club will stay with fans for plenty of years to come.

Team

Appearances

Minutes Played

Goals

Assists

Chelsea (3 Seasons) 

82

6,101'

17

32

Man United (9 Seasons)

196

12,781''

34

32

Total (12 Seasons) 

278

18,882'

51

64

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