This summer Eurosport is counting down the world's greatest footballers, as voted by our international network of journalists. We will reveal one player per day, culminating in the election of the first Ballon d'Eurosport on July 19.
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Mata is loved in England, widely regarded as one of the most exciting players in the Premier League, and humble with it.
Technically brilliant, Mata makes up for his lack of physical attributes with an intelligence that he applies equally to his life off the pitch – a fluent English speaker on arrival in London, he already has one degree in journalism and is studying for another in marketing and advertising.
He scores great goals, makes them for others, beats men when he wants, passes to others when he should, takes set-pieces... he is the complete attacking midfielder, and a thoroughly nice guy to boot.
It is worth noting who gave him high scores here – the UK/Ireland office, Arabia and Sweden, all territories where the Premier League is the main fodder. It seems Chelsea’s failure in the Champions League, and Rafael Benitez’s decision to rest him for much of the Europa League, means those without a beady eye on England may not realise quite how good he is.
Mata is also hampered by his nationality – Spain have an abundance of attacking midfielders, meaning he doesn’t play nearly as often for La Roja as he would any other country.
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How Eurosport voted
We asked the editorial teams of 10 countries/areas around the Eurosport network to compile their list of the world's 25 best players.
Then we did the sums, Eurovision-style. It's simple: a first-place vote is worth 25 points, second place is 24... all the way down to one point for a 25th-place vote.