Chelsea foolish to sell Mata, says Hudson

Chelsea's Juan Mata attends a news conference at Stamford Bridge in London May 1, 2013. Chelsea will play FC Basel in the second leg of their Europa League semi-final on Thursday. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh

LONDON (Reuters) - Chelsea have been foolish to allow Spain playmaker Juan Mata's imminent transfer to Premier League rivals Manchester United, the club's former crowd favourite Alan Hudson said on Friday.

Hudson left Chelsea in acrimonious circumstances along with the 'King of Stamford Bridge' Peter Osgood in 1974 after they fell out with then-manager Dave Sexton and he said the decision to sell the popular 25-year-old Mata was equally controversial.

Stoke City signed flamboyant midfielder Hudson for 250,000 pounds ($412,600) while fellow England international Osgood moved to Southampton for 275,000 pounds.

Fans of the west London club were heartbroken to see the duo leave 40 years ago and are almost as sad to see the departure of Mata, the club's player of the year for the last two seasons.

"Chelsea sold Osgood and me for a combined fee of 525,000 pounds... and why I bring this up is because like Mata we were our best players," Hudson wrote on his Facebook page.

"Chelsea are foolish to allow such a talent to leave Stamford Bridge, but looking back to 1974 it seems nothing has really changed for I was only 22 and Osgood 27 which meant that neither of us was anywhere near our peak."

Hudson, who also had spells with Arsenal and Seattle Sounders before briefly returning to Chelsea in 1983 without playing a first-team game, blamed the club's hierarchy for allowing Mata to leave.

"In one of (former Nottingham Forest and Derby County manager) Brian Clough's books there was a chapter on 'What Directors Know About Football'. He left the page blank," said the former crowd-pleaser.

"At Chelsea whether it was (former chairmen) Brian Mears, Ken Bates or today Bruce Buck it is exactly the same, nothing has changed," added the 62-year-old Hudson who is now an author.

United are expected to complete a club record deal put at 37 million pounds by media reports to sign Mata this weekend.

The Spaniard, who helped Chelsea win the Champions League in 2012 and the Europa League a year later, has found first-team opportunities hard to come by since Portuguese Jose Mourinho returned as manager in the close season.

Ironically, Hudson's former clubs Chelsea and Stoke meet in an FA Cup fourth-round tie at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

($1 = 0.6060 British pounds)

(Editing by Ken Ferris)

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