Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughJuan Mata – the new Zola? (Video) - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Juan Mata – the new Zola? (Video) - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Juan Mata – the new Zola? (Video)

I want to hate Juan Mata, believe me I do. With the recent furore surrounding Chelsea, it’s hard not to dislike the West London side. But, for all its worth, I just cannot hate the big headed Spaniard. The way he plays football, elegantly drifting across the pitch, finding pockets of space to punish the opposition defence – it’s impossible to not like Mata, and believe me; I’ve tried.

The Capital One Cup win over Manchester United once again demonstrated the immense talent of the diminutive schemer, who has started the season in the blistering form for the Blues, netting seven times and laying on a further nine assists in 13 appearances in all competitions.

It’s hard to imagine that Real Madrid allowed the then 19-year-old to leave so easily for Valencia back in 2007, but such is the way of football. During the 5-4 win over United on Wednesday night, I again took to Twitter to declare my footballing love for Mata, evoking a response from  a Chelsea supporting friend of mine which simply read ‘he is the new Zola’, naturally referring to Blues hero Gianfranco.

Now, when it comes to comparing current stars to former heroes, I regularly take it with a pinch of salt. Many a time I’ve heard ‘this player is the new Jimmy Greaves’ or ‘Steven Gerrard has his replacement lined up already’, but this time I got to thinking.

Reminiscing on Zola and his Blues performances, there was only one player who could relate to the pint sized Italian, it terms of footballing ability – that of Mata. It’s certainly fair to say that Chelsea have a star on their hands in the form of the Spaniard, whose ability continues to bear a striking resemblance to that of the now Watford manager.