Arsenal rivalling Tottenham for Chelsea outcast Mata

Arsenal appear to have stolen a march on Tottenham Hotspur in the race to sign Juan Mata from Chelsea, the Daily Mail has reported, after the Spain international’s father – also his agent – watched the Gunners qualify for the Champions League group stage by beating Fenerbahce on Tuesday.

Mata was an unused substitute for Chelsea’s goalless draw with Manchester United in the Premier League on Monday and has been linked with departing Stamford Bridge for much of the summer – indeed, the Mail first reported the Gunners’ interest in Mata in July.

And with Mata’s father a guest at the Emirates Stadium speculation of a switch to north London has intensified, with comments from Arsene Wenger adding fuel to the fire. As well as decrying the reluctance of English teams to conduct business between each other, Wenger confirmed his admiration of the former Valencia playmaker.

I watched the [Chelsea] game last night that Juan Mata could be on the market,” Wenger said, although he could not rate the chances of signing the player. “I don’t know, there is a reluctance in England to sell to each other. Does that frustrate me? Yes, I like him,” he added.

Spurs were hoping to use some of the £86m they will receive from Real Madrid to sign Mata, after missing out on Anzhi Makhachkala midfielder Willian. Ironically, it is Willian’s move to Chelsea – who gazumped Spurs – that looks like making Mata available for the north London clubs to compete which each other for. Atletico Madrid are also keen on taking Mata back to Spain in a loan deal.

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