As one of the best players in the modern history of Valencia CF, Juan Mata was always loved by the supporters. Seen as a technically sound creator who had no shortage of work effort, Mata was a major part of the post-Rafael Benitez era of Valencia. He played a role in keeping the club in the UEFA Champions League on a consistent basis, and was an essential part of their continued rise. Returning to the modern Valencia, though, is very different to the functional giant that Mata had originally left behind.
Despite being one of the biggest clubs in Spain, Valencia have made a habit of falling on hard times in recent years. The club has lacked the same fluency that it once had in the transfer market, instead making a continued habit of repeated mistakes and errors. The result is one of the most well-supported teams in Europe lacking anything like the quality that one would expect.
However, that could change in the near future, with some big name signings and Bosman transfers being suggested. Mata is one such transfer, though he could arrive as soon as the January transfer window. With little time left in the month, though, it is looking increasingly difficult to bring Mata ‘home’ in the winter window.
Is Juan Mata the right choice for Valencia?
Given the clubs creative deficit, absolutely. Despite having stellar attacking talent in the likes of Maxi Gomez and Goncalo Guedes, there is little excitement in watching Valencia play. They lack the same kind of quality that one would expect of a modern La Liga side, and they are nowhere near as aggressive off the ball. While Mata cannot help with the latter, he definitely would be able to provide more ammunition for regulars like Guedes and Gomez.
However, for now, the main issue for Valencia is finding some kind of team structure. Given his experience and overall quality, Mata would be useful as much as a leader in organising the team as much as anything else. A winner in both Europe and in the English top-flight, Mata has been a player who has long been respected for his contributions on the pitch as much as off it.
On top of this, he is a well-loved part of Valencia history and would offer fans an exciting glimpse of both the past and the future. Still with plenty to give at the top level, Mata would be seen as a game-changer for a Valencia side that is perilously close to fighting relegation.
Despite having once held the reputation as one of the best-run clubs in Spain, today Valencia are a shadow of their former selves. Bringing in a marquee talent like Mata, despite his advancing years, would provide the club with the help and support that they need to at least start attacking and scoring goals again.
For Mata, though, the main concern is this: if he waits until the summer, will Los Che even be in La Liga to sign for?