Juan Mata

Ones to watch

Published:
by Ashley Houghton

We take a look inside the Chelsea camp.

Juan Mata

Juan Mata is one of the most gifted footballers in the Barclays Premier League, his range of passing; vision and finishing are of the highest class – evident in his 18 goals and 30 assists in all competitions this season.

Mata was a youth at Real Madrid before moving to Valencia in 2007, and it was at the Mestalla that Mata would make his name.

Mata made 147 appearances for Valencia in a four year spell where he created 52 goals and scored 46 – his impressive form earning him his first Spain cap and he has since gone on to make 23 appearances in a Spain shirt.

He was signed by Chelsea in the summer of 2011 for a reported €28m and impressed immediately under Andre Villas-Boas before the Portuguese manager was dismissed in March 2012.

Mata played a key role in Chelsea’s Champions League success of last season; he was voted the Chelsea fans' Player of the Year after scoring the vital away goal in Naples as Di Matteo master-minded a memorable second-leg victory at Stamford Bridge.

His Champions League medal goes with a FIFA World Cup and European Championship medals from the past three years as success with his country has matched Mata's achievements at club level.

Demba Ba

Senegal international Demba Ba has taken the Barclays Premier League by storm since joining West Ham United back in 2011.

Ba spent four years at German club Hoffenheim, after spells with Rouen and Mouscron in France, before moving to London to join up with the Hammers.

In his first year with West Ham Ba scored seven goals in 13 games but couldn’t prevent them from eventual relegation to the Championship.

The Hammers' relegation inevitably opened the door for Ba to leave the club and the 27-year-old joined Newcastle United at the start of the 2011-12 season.

Ba impressed on Tyneside, scoring 34 goals in 73 games during his 18-month stay with the Magpies and attracting interest from elsewhere.

In January 2013 it was confirmed that Ba would join Chelsea after the Blues activated a £7m release clause in his contract.

Since joining Stamford Bridge he has scored five times in 15 games, most notably his incredible volley to send Manchester United out of the FA Cup on Easter Monday.

Oscar

Brazilian playmaker Oscar has drawn comparison to some of the world’s elite including Kaka and Mesut Ozil after taking to the Barclays Premier League like a duck to water at the age of 21.

Oscar began his career in his native Brazil firstly with Sao Paulo and then Internacional where he impressed with 19 goals in 70 appearances.

His form for the Brazil U20 and U23 sides earned him a full international debut with Brazil prior to his move to Stamford Bridge in 2012.

Oscar made his first UEFA Champions League start as Chelsea looked to defend the trophy in 2012-13 and he scored a wonderful dipping shot past Juventus keeper Gianluigi Buffon in the Group Stages resulting in him being named man of the match on his European debut.

He has featured in a remarkable 51 games for the Blues so far this season, scoring nine times.

In total he has played 15 times for Brazil, netting on four occasions for the South Americans.