Arsenal are reportedly planning a raid on arch rivals Manchester United for the signing of playmaker Juan Mata, whose contract expires at the end of the season.
As per a report from Daily Mirror, Arsenal are pondering over the possibility of signing Spanish attacking midfielder Juan Mata on a free transfer, when his contract with rivals Manchester United runs out at the end of the season.
The 30-year-old Spanish international is in the final six months of his contract with the Red Devils and can speak to foreign clubs, and sign a pre-contract agreement over a summer transfer. The report claims that European heavyweights Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus are monitoring Mata’s situation along with La Liga champions Barcelona.
Now, Arsenal too have thrown their hats in the ring for signing the 2010 FIFA World Cup winner, with manager Unai Emery looking to reunite with his former ward. The pair worked together for three years at Valencia between 2008 and 2011, before Mata moved to England with Chelsea.
The Gunners are looking for a playmaker to add to their ranks amid uncertainties over the future of star man Mesut Ozil, who has fallen out of favour under Emery.
The former Real Madrid star, who is Arsenal’s biggest wage-earner at £350,000-a-week, hasn’t started a single game since last year’s Boxing Day draw against Brighton & Hove Albion. He did make an appearance in Arsenal’s 1-3 defeat to Manchester United in the FA Cup on Friday night, but failed to make any sort of impact.
Arsenal were being strongly linked with a move for Real Madrid midfielder James Rodriguez, who is currently on loan at Bayern Munich. But Mata’s availability on a free transfer seems to have appealed to the North London outfit, given their current lack of finances.
Mata has been one of Premier League’s best imports from Spain. Having arrived at Chelsea in the summer of 2011, the 30-year-old went on to make 135 appearances for the Blues, before switching to Manchester United in January 2014. The playmaker has made over 200 appearances for the Red Devils and has established himself as a firm fan favourite.
During his stay in England, Mata has won the UEFA Champions League with Chelsea and two Europa League trophies – one with Chelsea and Manchester United each. The Spaniard also has two FA Cups and one League Cup in his collection.
Manchester United have held dialogues with the 30-year-old over the possibility of a new deal, but there has been little development on that front. The Red Devils are believed to be apprehensive over offering long-term deals to players aged around and over thirty – leading to hold-ups in deals for the likes of Ashley Young, Antonio Valencia and Ander Herrera.
Arsenal made an attempt to sign Eric Bailly from Manchester United on loan this month, but were rebuffed by the 20-time English champions. They will be hoping that their pursuit of Mata yields a better result. As far as United are concerned, they will be aiming to resolve the playmaker’s contractual situation at the earliest.