Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher believes that Juan Mata is the most-underrated player in the Premier League.
Since coming to England in 2011, the Spanish midfielder has made 178 appearances in the top flight, scoring 42 goals and getting 41 assists.
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After enjoying initial success at Chelsea, Mata found himself frozen out of the team by Jose Mourinho, which led to him moving to Manchester United in January 2014 for £37.1 million.
Now the two have been reunited in the North West and the 28-year-old has turned out 10 times in the league so far this season, two of these as a substitute.
Mata scored the Red Devils’ only goal of the game against Arsenal and was a constant threat throughout the game.
“I think we’re looking at one of the most underrated players in the Premier League,” Carragher told Sky Sports.
“I think the reason he doesn’t get that credit the others get is that he played his first two years here with Chelsea, then Mourinho comes in – the ‘best manager in the world’ – and gets rid of him so everyone thinks ‘Mourinho can’t be wrong, so there must be something wrong with Mata’.
“He goes to Manchester United, but he’s not a Manchester United player, he hasn’t got any pace and the fee is well over the odds for him. But what No 10 has got pace?
“I think it’s about time now that we start looking at Mata in these group of players – Kevin De Bruyne, Philippe Coutinho, David Silva, Eden Hazard – as one of the top players in the Premier League, which he is and has been.
“It’s not a flash in the pan. He’s been here five or six years, and he should start getting a lot more credit.”
One stat that shows that Mata is one of the best number 10s in the league is the rankings for minutes per goal and assists against top six sides.
Mata tops that list on 148.6, with second place going to Liverpool’s Philippe Couthinho with 172.5, in a table that also features Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil and Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne.
“He’s played almost as much as anyone against ‘big six’ opposition, only bettered by Silva, so we’re not talking about a run of seven or eight games when he’s had a bit of luck and got a few goals,” Carragher told Monday Night Football.
“People always talk about assists with No 10’s and I don’t care what position you play in, a goal is more important than an assist for me.
“The minutes for goals and assists is also a massive difference between the others, almost by 15 minutes.
“So he’s getting more goals than those players in those positions. Silva only has more assists and we talk about those players and the influence that they have, but this is where it is important, in those big games.”