We're asking fans to submit scouting reports during the UEFA Under-21 Championships. Here's one
Player name: Juan Manuel Mata
National team: Spain Under-21s
Current club: Valencia
Position: Attacking midfielder
Match scouted: Spain 3-0 Ukraine, 20 June 2011
Key moment: A well-taken goal very early in the second half was the reward for a superb all-round performance. Mata was an attacking menace and Ukraine (whose defence came highly rated before the tournament) crumbled in front of his obvious talent and flair. His performances throughout the tournament have been a joy to behold, chipping in with assists in the previous game and with two goals in this one.
Strengths: Mata combines pace with intelligence and trickery and is a goal-scoring threat from midfield. His passing is sublime and his movement (both on and off the ball) excellent. However, what impresses me most is his decision-making – he always seems to make the right choice, whether it is a pass, a shot or a dribble.
Weaknesses: He's not the biggest player and can be bullied off the ball by strong defenders. This could pose a problem in the Premier League. However, the same was said of David Silva and he has proved that slick movement works just as well as brute strength. Also, this ‘weakness’ can be addressed quite quickly with adequate work in the gym.
Suitability: Mata usually plays on the left wing, but he is a typical Spanish winger and drifts inside a lot. He is very similar to David Silva. I believe he could easily start in the middle of the park in an advanced role and since we are looking for a creative outlet in the centre of midfield, I feel Mata would add a lot of quality to our ranks. Obviously, he wouldn’t be able to play in the centre in a 4-4-2 formation, but we can adapt and change the formation to suit certain situations.