Jose Mourinho once more left Juan Mata out of his Chelsea plans on Saturday evening, but he insists the Spaniard can still have a future at Stamford Bridge.
The former Valencia playmaker was exceptional for the Blues last season, as they finished third in the Premier League and won the UEFA Europa League. Many felt he would continue to play a key role under Mourinho this term, but the Portuguese coach has handed him just two league starts and left him out of the squad altogether for the visit of Fulham this weekend.
When asked about this decision after the game, the Chelsea boss revealed that at the moment, Oscar, who opened the scoring in the 2-0 win, is his preferred option in the number 10 role. However, he also revealed that Mata could still have a future at the club, but he expects the 25-year-old to adapt his game to earn a place in the starting eleven.
“The evolution of the team is that I want Oscar and Mata to play together,” he told Sky Sports. “I want that but for that one has to adapt and to work to a certain way of play because I am not ready to change Oscar’s position. Oscar as a number 10 is a player that gives us creativity, but at the same time when we press up, Oscar is a runner, a player capable of pressing.
“We have our ideas and we stick with our ideas. Juan has to learn to play the way I want to play. He has to be more consistent, has to participate more when the team loses the ball. It’s not his fault, it’s just the consequence of the way he has played in the last years.”
Meanwhile, reports in the Sunday Mirror claim former Chelsea coach Rafael Benitez is prepared to offer Mata a route out of the English capital. Now in charge of Napoli, the Spaniard has made a fine start to life in Italy with three successive Serie A wins, and he will feel his former charge can help his side push for a first league title since 1990 should he land him in January.