Chelsea signing Juanma Mata credited Spain teammate Fernando Torres in helping sway him to join the English club.
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Chelsea paid Valencia a reported 30 million euros ($43 million) for the forward, a member of Spain’s World Cup-winning squad with Torres, who joined the Blues from Liverpool in January in a British record fee said to be 50 million pounds ($79.5 million).
”When he knew they were interested in signing me, he spoke with me and told me that playing abroad could be a very nice step for me,” Mata said Wednesday. ”It’s a new endeavor in my life, to develop personally and professionally. So I think I took the most logical decision.”
The 23-year-old Mata ”never imagined himself leaving” but only agreed as the offer was too good for the Spanish club to pass up.
”I spoke with (president) Manuel Llorente since I wanted to know if the offer was a good help for the club in economic terms,” said Mata, last season’s captain. ”I came in at zero cost and I leave a lot of money behind.”
Valencia, one of Spain’s most heavily indebted clubs, has made approximately 145 million euros ($209 million) in transfers since 2009, with Spain internationals David Villa, David Silva and Raul Albiol bringing in the bulk of those fees.
Despite the exodus of the club’s top stars, the Spanish club has finished third behind Barcelona and Madrid the past two seasons and remains in the Champions League.
Mata joined Valencia in 2007 after a season in Real Madrid’s ”B” team and made an immediate impact, scoring 45 goals in 172 appearances for the Mediterranean coast club. He also won one Copa del Rey in four seasons at Valencia.
”I can only give thanks to the club for trusting in me as a 19-year-old who came over from a second-division club,” Mata said. ”It was difficult for a club like Valencia and its need to get results to trust a young kid, but they did.”