Manchester United signing Juan Mata was the best player at Chelsea, says Rafael Benitez

The Spanish playmaker moved to Old Trafford in a big-money deal in January

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The Independent Football

Juan Mata was the best player at Chelsea, according to their former manager Rafael Benitez.

Many were surprised when Jose Mourinho sanctioned the sale of the playmaker to their Premier League rivals Manchester United. The Spain international moved in a deal worth £37.1m last month.

Mourinho explained at the time that Mata did not fit easily into his preferred system, and while he was not desperate for Mata to leave, he allowed the player to move on in search of more regular football.

Mata won Chelsea's player of the season award for the past two years and Benitez, who has always had a frosty relationship with Mourinho, agrees that Mata was their best player.

"I am not here to talk about Chelsea," he told reporters ahead of his current side Napoli's Europa League tie against Swansea. "But Juan was their best player in the last two years. That is it. You can see that."

Seemingly keen not to start a fresh feud with the Special One, Benitez added: "I am not here to analyse what they (Chelsea) did."

Benitez won the Europa League with Chelsea after being drafted in to replace Roberto Di Matteo, with Mata playing a pivotal role in their European run.