Barcelona eye Chelsea star Mata after alleged Mourinho row

Barcelona are hoping to exploit any falling out between new Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho and playmaker Juan Mata in order to bring the midfielder back to Spain, the Daily Mirror has reported.

Mourinho is not thought to have spoken with any of the Chelsea players currently competing in the Confederations Cup in Brazil, including Mata, since his return to Stamford Bridge was confirmed earlier in June. But, the newspaper adds, the former Real Madrid boss is rumoured to have opposed a pay rise Mata was due under the terms of his contract, creating a rift between the pair.

Chelsea have denied that is the case but reports from Spain say Mourinho is unconvinced by Mata’s qualities, despite Mata netting 19 goals and claiming 35 assists last season. Mata’s performances also saw him named the club’s player of the season.

Mourinho could, however, favour the use of Eden Hazard as the team’s central playmaker, which would leave Mata on the fringes – and tempt Barcelona into a £30m bid for the 25-year-old, once they have sold off a number of their squad players to raise funds following the £40m purchase of Neymar.

Mata is not thought to want to leave London and has three years remaining on the Chelsea contract he signed following his £23m move from Valencia in 2011.

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