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On this day: Chelsea sign Juan Mata

Two years ago today, Spanish midfielder Juan Mata signed a five-year contract with Chelsea.

Real Madrid have made a habit in recent years of allowing young players to leave the club, deeming them to be sub-standard when it came to breaking into their senior side.

Some of those footballers have gone on to prove the coaching staff at Los Blancos wrong, though, with Tottenham Hotspur's summer signing Roberto Soldado a shining example, as well as Manchester City frontman Alvaro Negredo.

Another that has no doubt left Madrid regretting their actions is Juan Mata, who was granted permission to join up with Valencia in 2007.

It was during his four years at the Mestalla that he started to show Madrid what they would be missing, so much so that Spain coach Vicente del Bosque included him in his victorious 2010 World Cup squad in South Africa.

Chelsea's Juan Mata in action against Everton on May 19, 2013© Getty Images

Los Ches' well-documented financial problems have meant that their best players are often available for transfer, though, and despite his worth to the team, Mata was no different. He was linked with a host of Europe's biggest names, but it was Chelsea who captured his signature on this day two years ago for a reported £23.5m.

Wearing the number 10 shirt, he immediately provided a taste of things to come by scoring on his debut against Norwich City at Stamford Bridge.

His and Chelsea's season went from strength to strength and he ended the campaign with six goals and 23 assists to his name in all competitions, as well as medals for winning the FA Cup and Champions League.

More accolades followed last season in the form of the Europa League, while he also improved his return of goals - finding the net 20 times and laying on a remarkable 35 goals for his teammates. Those statistics, unsurprisingly, saw the 25-year-old scoop most of the club's awards at the end of the campaign.

His services have recently been linked with Manchester United, but having recently stated his happiness at the Bridge, it appears that the champions may fall short in another pursuit of a transfer target this summer.

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Spain's Alvaro Negredo in action against Portugal during Euro 2012 on June 27, 2012
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