Juan Mata believes Spanish players in the Premier League are not getting the recognition they deserve in their homeland, singling out Arsenal star Santi Cazorla as the main example of this unfairness. The Manchester United ace has also hailed Wayne Rooney as one of the greatest England players of all-time following a poor start to the season in which the forward has come under intense scrutiny due to his dip in form.
Mata has established himself as a Premier League favourite after his arrival in Chelsea from Valencia in the summer of 2011. However, despite being part of the Spanish national team that won the World Cup in 2010 and Euro 2012, he has struggled to become a consistent player for the Spanish national team in recent years.
The United star has been included in the latest Spanish squad by Julen Lopetegui but was overlooked by Vicente Del Bosque for Euro 2016. His fate has been similar to other Spanish Premier League stars like Arsenal ace Cazorla, his teammate Nacho Monreal or even Chelsea star Diego Costa while Hector Bellerin is still in the Under-21 squad despite having arguably emerged as the best right-back in English football.
Mata has complained about what he claims is unfair treatment in an interview with Marca, claiming that Spanish media do not care about the Premier League as much as they should.
"I have thought about that sometimes and I have the feeling that maybe (Spain forget about the players who are playing abroad). When you do not play in Spain you are not on the daily radar of the newspapers. That importance we have in England sometimes does not reach us from Spain. Obviously, the national team manager and his staff watch our games. I do not think that (playing abroad) has an influence in the call-up (of the national team) but in the level of repercussion. The media do not talk too much about what happens here (in the Premier League)," the Manchester United star said. "Obviously it's a fantastic League which deserves to be covered (by the media) but sometimes I think that (the Spanish media don't do it). Santi Cazorla comes to my mind. He is a super important player, one of Arsenal captains and in Spain he is not so recognised."
Mata however believes that the opposite happens in England, where Spanish players are now "magnificently valued" by fans and media.
"Due to the success of the national team, several of us went to England. The bravest had done it before, but after us many followed because we are magnificently valued here. It is because of the quality and competitiveness that makes the Premier League so good."
The Manchester United star also defended his teammate Rooney following his indifferent start to the campaign. "(Rooney is) a legend, that's what I think he is. As for matches and goals, he is at the level of Sir Bobby Charlton and above Gary Lineker. We are talking about the most important people in the history of English football. Wayne has achieved things that very few have succeeded in doing," Mata said.
"He's at the highest level in the history of English football. Sometimes I get the impression that it's not fair, that you only look at the present and not at the past, at everything that a player has done for his club or his country. This is Wayne's case."