After back-to-back summers in which Mata picked up the 2010 World Cup and the European Under-21 Championship titles, the forward was viewed as one of the hottest prospects in world football.
Beginning his youth career with Oviedo, he moved to Real Madrid's academy at the age of 15 and spent three years there before being promoted to the Castilla team in 2006-07. Impressing, despite relegation, Mata was curiously not given another deal at the club and was allowed to move to Valencia due to a clause in his contract.
Oozing with pace and a direct style that sends a shiver down the spines of defenders, Los Che got themselves a bargain and it was not long before he was making his mark on La Liga. Scoring goals aplenty from his attacking role on the flank he helped the side to the Copa del Rey trophy in 2007-08 and his understanding with David Villa was praised by many.
However, with Villa's exit to Barcelona in 2010 and Valencia's growing debt problems, Mata was linked with moves to Arsenal, Man City and Liverpool before Chelsea swooped to bring him to the Premier League for around €30 million in August 2011.
Strengths: Technically superb, his close control and vision are excellent and he has the ability to beat his man and set up chances.
Weaknesses: Lightweight and lacking power, he can be shrugged off the ball too easily and is not much help to his defenders.
Career high: Winning the 2010 World Cup with Spain, although he did not play a major part in the tournament.
Career low: Relegation from the Segunda with Real Madrid's B side left him with little hope of breaking into the first team.
Style: Classy, skilful, technical, a creative midfielder with a great eye.
Quotes: "He's a player who scores and assists and he can add to any squad in the world.'' Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas.
Trivia: A former student of journalism at the Universidad Politecnica de Madrid, he enjoys playing table-tennis in his spare time.