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Mata Destined To Stay On The Chelsea Bench

Juan Mata started on the bench again for Chelsea last night, as the Blues slumped to defeat against Basel in the Champions League.

And after the match, manager Jose Mourinho admitted that the Spanish international midfielder may have to get used to the feel of the substitute’s bib.

For two seasons Mata was Chelsea’s best player, but the 25-year-old is now behind Eden Hazard and Oscar in the pecking order at Stamford Bridge.

There is simply no place for more than two attacking midfielders alongside the striker in Mourinho’s rigid formation, and with eight appearances this season compared to the 13 and 14 of Hazard and Oscar, it is clear where Mata lies.

The Special One admits that Mata “deserves” to play, but that at this stage he cannot find a place for the former Valencia star in the starting line-up.

"There is one thing that is obvious, which is I can't change the rules and I can't start the match with 12, 13 or 14 [players],” Mourinho told the London Evening Standard.

"I'd love that because many people deserve to play and Juan is one who deserves to play because of the way he works, behaves, the way we see him every day.

"But if I play him and I don't play [Eden] Hazard or Oscar, you are asking me about Hazard or Oscar in this moment.

"It's a consequence of the squad we have where, for these positions behind the striker, we have so many options.

"It's hard for me. I don't have a special pleasure leaving players out. I enjoy playing them and making them happy, but there's nothing I can do."

Mata is a world class player, no two ways about it, and it beggars belief that he is not at a club that offers him more regular first-team football.

In the interests of their strength in depth, and perhaps his own ego, Chelsea and Mata would love for him to stay and succeed at Stamford Bridge.

However, regular game time is vital for the player, especially in a World Cup year. And the rumour mill suggests PSG and Atletico Madrid are prepared to offer Mata the game time he deserves.

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