10 Players You Didn't Know Barcelona Almost Signed
8. Juan Mata
Juan Mata began his career with Barcelona's fierce rivals Real Madrid, emerging from their academy in 2006 and playing 39 times for their B team. scoring 10 times. However, he never made it big in Spain and didn't make a single appearance for their senior side. Nevertheless, there was reported interest from Barcelona, and the creative midfielder came close to signing. The move didn't come to fruition however and though Mata stayed in Spain, it was at Valencia, whom he joined instead of the Catalans. He shone at the Mestalla, scoring 33 goals in 129 appearances for The Bats before moving to Chelsea in 2011. There was again interest from Barca in the Spaniard during this period, with the La Liga club in the market for a new creative midfielder. Links between the player and Barcelona were quite prevalent, and Mata was constantly spoken of as a future Nou Camp star. In the summer of 2011, however, when Valencia agreed to sell, it was to Chelsea, with Barcelona signing Alexis Sanchez instead. Since then, Mata has gone on to join Manchester United following a sometimes-difficult three season stay at Stamford Bridge, and became the Red Devil's record transfer signing when he moved to Old Trafford in the January transfer window.
Joseph is an accredited football journalist and has interviewed nearly all of the current 20 Barclay's Premier League managers. He is also a correspondent for Bleacher Report and has written for Caught Offside and Give Me Football.