Writers’ opinions are more respected than footballers, especially when their votes aren’t cast midway through the season. Juan Mata didn’t make headlines this season like Robin van Persie, Gareth Bale or even Luis Suarez (for good and bad), but the Chelsea player deserves the award for footballer of the year just as much as the rest of them, and possibly even more.
Because Robin van Persie is going to finish as the top scorer in the Premier League, leading with 25 goals this season. But he had a long stretch of no goals and nothing else to contribute. There’s more to his match than simply scoring, and it did feel like Van Persie’s second half of the season wasn’t as impressive as the first.
Same goes for Gareth Bale, who does wonders on the football pitch at times; wonders so great that Tottenham might end up playing the Champions League. But Bale has plenty of matches, not just a few, in which he was hardly even felt. There are those matches in which the Welshman is too busy griping about tackles made and not made, while doing himself a disservice by trying to dive his way into better situations.
Luis Suarez? In terms of ability, not to mention playing for the least impressive team out of all the candidates, he might be the most deserving. He has scored 23 league goals this season, and if it comes to being of most value to his team, Suarez might have been the difference between a Liverpool side that has had European thoughts for the second half of the season, and a Liverpool side that never gets out of that disastrous starts.
Mata has 11 goals and 11 assists. He is playing with a striker that has barely a shred of confidence when he’s playing in the Premier League and one of the more inconsistent defensive midfield units one can imagine being on a top team like Chelsea. And still, he’s been good, if not much better, almost every single time this season. He was the catalyst to Chelsea playing well and attractive football at times, and has proved himself to be quite the ‘clutch’ performer and scorer with goals against Manchester United and Arsenal proving to be the deciders.
Mata has always been the less heralded of a quality Spanish side, but things are changing. David Silva’s incredible 2011 is long gone, and Mata has proved to be the better player when compared with his former Valencia teammate. Andres Iniesta might be starting to dip in form. This might be Mata’s chance to take over the Spanish team as well.
Mata has pushed Frank Lampard back to a different role because he’s a better, more influential player. Even with the more expensive arrivals of Eden Hazard and Oscar, he stood out as the consistent figure in the Chelsea creative trio. Any plans the team has for the future, Mata should be in the center of them. He’s that good, and deserves the Writers’ award more than anyone else.