Chelsea midfielder Juan Mata claims he is striving to emulate the success of Blues' legend Gianfranco Zola.

The Spain international has become a fans' favourite at Stamford Bridge since arriving from Valencia in 2011 and his consistent performances have drawn parallels with the club's former talisman Zola. The 24-year-old admits he is flattered by the comparison but insists he still has plenty to improve.

"He was so good, so talented, just magic to watch. To be considered like him in any way makes me so happy. But Gianfranco Zola achieved a lot more than I've done so far in my career. What he did here, the reputation he has here, is something I'd like to try to emulate," Mata told the Guardian.

Juan Mata

"Everything I do is about improvement. Last season went so well for me, my first at the club after changing everything: my life, my football, from the Spanish league to the Premier League. But it's stepped up again since," the playmaker pointed out.

Mata has 18 goals and 22 assists to his name from 52 appearances in all competitions for Chelsea this season. The Blues sit fourth in the Premier League and the Spaniard is key as the west London club's battle for a Champions League spot heats up. Mata will also have a role to play in the FA Cup and Europa League campaign, where Chelsea face Manchester City and Rubin Kazan respectively.

"If we can finish in the top four, after ending sixth last year, that would mean we have more consistency and is a step forward. We've learned from what happened last year and won't make the same mistakes again. We know we have to be playing in next season's Champions League," Mata explained.

"But if we can win, say, the Europa League, it would have been another great season for the club. They have never won that trophy before. Neither have I and there are so many things I still want to win: the Premier League is one," the Real Madrid product added.

Chelsea host Sunderland on Sunday before travelling to Russia to face Rubin Kazan. Mata and his team mates hold a 3-1 lead from the first leg, courtesy a fine brace from compatriot Fernando Torres.