Saturday 16 December 2017

Arsenal make progress in Mata pursuit

Jeremy Wilson

Arsene Wenger is hopeful of making a new signing before this weekend's Emirates Cup, with Arsenal progressing on a number of targets, including Valencia winger Juan Mata.

A new centre-back is also a priority and, after failing last week with a bid for Everton's Phil Jagielka, Wenger is also now considering a firm offer for Gary Cahill or Chris Samba.

The Arsenal squad returned to England yesterday following the club's training camp in Germany, with Wenger keen to add at least one player before the week is out.

Much will depend on negotiations with Barcelona over Cesc Fabregas, who will not feature in this weekend's Emirates Cup.

However, progress has been made on Mata, who would cost an initial £13m, rising to £17.5m. Mata is primarily a left-sided attacker, with his potential arrival likely to pave the way for Samir Nasri to move into the Fabregas role behind a main central striker.

Tottenham are also interested in Mata, but Arsenal are ready to offer superior personal terms and it is understood the Spain international wants Champions League football.

"he idea is that he continues (with us), but he may leave," said Valencia manager Unai Emery.

Although Mata can also play on the right or through the middle, he would be competing with Andrey Arshavin for a place on the left. Arshavin has set himself a target of 15 goals for next season.

Fabregas is still keen on a move to Barcelona but, as has been the case for the past 18 months, Arsenal will insist that a valuation of around £40m is met. Further talks are expected over the next 48 hours.

Fabregas is yet to train this summer because of a hamstring injury and, if he does stay, is increasingly unlikely to be match fit for the first game of the season against Newcastle on August 13.

There is also concern over Theo Walcott after he returned home a day early from Germany with an ankle injury.

Blackburn centre-back Samba, meanwhile, admitted yesterday that he would be tempted by a move to the Gunners.

"When you are a footballer -- or if you play any high-profile sport -- you should be ambitious," he said.

"Of course I would like to play in the Champions league.

"It is difficult at the moment but I am just waiting to see what happens and concentrating on my pre-season preparation." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport