- Premier League
Mata close to new Chelsea deal
Chelsea have begun proceedings to offer Juan Mata a new contract before the start of the 2013-14 season - in order to ward off a long list of interested clubs and finally end speculation about the Spaniard's future.
Mata is coveted by Barcelona and was last week even the subject of a rumour in which he was reportedly offered to Manchester United in part-exchange for Wayne Rooney.
Chelsea swiftly denied the story, and Stamford Bridge insiders have told ESPN that they were already in the process of tying down Mata's future at that point.
The 25-year-old's current deal ends in 2016, but Chelsea want to extend that to 2018 and also raise his wages from under £70,000 a week to £100,000.
Although the Europa League winners are now very confident of securing Mata's future, it is understood that there was initially some genuine uncertainty at the start of the summer.
Some in Mata's camp were unsure of his status after Jose Mourinho's appointment as manager, while the Portuguese was at the same time ruminating on where exactly the playmaker would fit into his planned system.
It is also known that a number of top European clubs felt he was surprisingly available for transfer, with Barcelona especially encouraged and hopeful of a purchase.
The situation has eased significantly since then, with Mourinho also making much more glowing comments about Mata than he did on first being appointed. The Chelsea manager has been explaining where he sees the Spaniard's specific role in his first XI as part of a rotating trio of playmakers.
Most importantly of all, it is understood that Mata - along with Oscar - is one of Roman Abramovich's personal favourite players in the team. That would make any direct sale almost impossible.
By contrast, as Chelsea step up their efforts to sign Rooney, club sources have stated that both Fernando Torres and Demba Ba are available for transfer.