Spain star enjoying fighting for Chelsea place but admits he has one eye on Brazil 2014.
Juan Mata says he is enjoying fighting for his place at Chelsea but has admitted securing a World Cup place with Spain is playing on his mind.
The playmaker, named Blues player of the year in each of the past two seasons, has found himself on the periphery of the first team since Jose Mourinho’s return to Stamford Bridge this summer, much to the bemusement of fans and pundits alike.
The 25-year-old, who has started seven of Chelsea’s 14 league matches, has been linked with moves to Atletico Madrid and PSG in January but has stressed his committment to the West London outfit.
However, Mata, a World Cup winner in 2010, has admitted he is desperate to play enough games to ensure his place on the plane to Brazil next summer.
“You always think about it [the World Cup], albeit unconsciously because you have to think about the next [Chelsea] game. But you know you have to have a good season to go there,” Mata told ChelseaTV.
“After winning the first one, for me it would be amazing to go to my second World Cup in Brazil, which is a great football country. It would be amazing for me to win trophies with Chelsea and afterwards to go to the World Cup.
“I think it’s good [the competition for places] for every player and even for the manager. We have a lot of players to choose from and a very good squad. In some positions we have a lot of players at more or less the same level.
“It is very good for us to grow as players and for the manager it must be very difficult to choose the first XI every game but it is a very good situation for the club to have this level of players.”
Mata played 128 matches across the two previous campaigns but admits he would prefer to maintain such a hefty schedule.
“If you think about it [the number of games he’s played in the last two years], it’s probably too much. But during the season you don’t want to stop. I want to play as much as I can. I have the summer [after the World Cup] where I can rest so I want to play as much as I can.
“I feel really good. I’m just trying to train the best I can to be fit and I feel really good to play.”
After impressing in the previous two league victories over Southampton and Sunderland, Mata is hopeful of keeping his place for the visit to Stoke City on Saturday and says the players are keen to maintain their momentum in the run-up to the key Christmas period.
“We are playing good at home, we are getting a lot of points at home but we need to improve away for sure,” he said. “Now we have a very good chance to make it six points away in one week so we will try to win at Stoke as well. It will be hard but I think we can do it.
“For me, this is the most important month. November and December is a period that if you get the points, you will fight for the title, if you don’t it will be difficult for you.
“We suffered last season in these months, November was very difficult for us, December as well. But we have the chance to win many points and arrive in January in a very good situation.”
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