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Wenger admits Mata interest

ESPN staff
August 28, 2013
Mata's Chelsea future has been under close scrutiny © AP

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has admitted his interest in signing Chelsea midfielder Juan Mata but believes it is unlikely the Stamford Bridge club would sell a star player to a domestic rival.

Tottenham Hotspur have also been heavily linked with a move for Mata in the last 48 hours as they look to find replacements for the soon-to-depart Gareth Bale, even though Jose Mourinho continues to insist the Spaniard remains a key player in his plans.

Mata's father, also named Juan, was spotted in the Emirates Stadium directors box watching Tuesday night's Champions League qualifier win over Fenerbahce, which will fuel the rumours that his son may well be preparing for a high profile move in the coming days.

Yet while Wenger said that Mata "could be on the market", he seemed downbeat on his chances of signing the midfielder who came close to joining the Gunners in the summer of 2011.

"I like him. I have heard like you because I watched the game [between Chelsea and Manchester United], that Juan Mata could be on the market," Wenger told reporters. "I don't know. There is a reluctance in England to sell to each other."

While the post-match discussion continued to focus on Wenger's transfer targets and his possible interest in Mata and Manchester United's Wayne Rooney, the Arsenal boss insisted he is now content to work with his current squad as they turn their attentions to Sunday's North London derby against Spurs.

"I don't know what to say anymore [on transfers], I've said it all before," he added. "There is nothing new to report. We want now to prepare for the next game and leave all the rest. We work hard on it and we do the maximum. I cannot tell you more than we are on the market. Everybody knows. The whole world knows that now.

"I cannot be more creative than that in the press conferences because all has been said and nothing has been concluded yet so I can understand your questions but I cannot give you more answers at the moment."

Meanwhile, Atletico Madrid President Enrique Cerezo suspects his interest in signing Mata from Chelsea before next Monday's transfer deadline may flounder on financial grounds.

Reports in Spain had suggested that Atletico were keen to pursue a move for the 25-year-old, but it seems those hopes are already forlorn.

"Mata is a good player, but he is in the Premier League and over there they are paid a lot," Cerezo is quoted in the Daily Mirror. "We have a fantastic squad and right now I do not know if the coach is planning to bring in anyone else or not, but even so, we have seven days."

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