• Premier League

United inching closer to Mata move

ESPN staff
January 21, 2014
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Manchester United are hopeful of securing a deal for Chelsea's Juan Mata by this weekend, sources at both Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge have told ESPN.

United officials have remained in London over the last two days to conduct negotiations for Mata and one other "European-based central midfielder" - believed to be Juventus' Arturo Vidal.

While the second deal is still some way off, and may even be for the summer, sources have stated that there has been considerable movement in Mata negotiations and, for the first time, Chelsea are considering a sale to a domestic rival.

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While any such move would involve United breaking their transfer record - with figures of around £40 million being mooted - the Old Trafford hierarchy is said to have been jolted into the action by the urgency of the club's situation after Sunday's 3-1 defeat to Chelsea.

Previously, Old Trafford insiders had been hugely concerned that officials were too rigid in sticking to a policy of refusing to "pay over the odds" in terms of fees and wages, even though that was all that was required in the case of many of the players United have pursued since June.

Any deal for Mata would involve a marked departure from that, and it is understood they are finally prepared to do so. Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, however, will have the final say over whether the Spanish playmaker leaves - amid suggestions the club would still prefer to sell Mata abroad.

Meanwhile, United feel a significant wage increase can entice Vidal to the club - either now or in the summer. Although the Chilean midfielder is hugely happy at Juventus, and turned down Bayern Munich for the Italian champions, initial negotiations were encouraging for United.

The fact that Vidal is also on relatively low wages for a player at a big European club, and that Juve are maintaining a comparatively prudent approach to transfers, means United feel they have some leverage.

United are also keeping tabs on Vidal's team-mate Claudio Marchisio, and have renewed interest in Roma's Miralem Pjanic, Atletico Madrid's Koke as well as Newcastle United's Yohan Cabaye.

The range of targets reflect what has been a frustrating period in the market for Moyes, with United said to have scouted up to 40 players over the past few months.

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