United eye £40m Mata swoop to save season
Moyes prepared to shatter transfer record as Spanish star looks to reignite World Cup hopes
Chelsea were last night braced for a £40m bid for Juan Mata from Manchester United.
A deal, which would break United's transfer record, has been discussed with intermediaries.
United would have to offer around £40m for the 25-year-old Spain international in the hope of pushing a deal through. United sources insisted last night that no bid had been made, but it is understood that the club do admire Mata and might consider a move.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has stated that he does not want Mata, who has been linked to a host of clubs throughout Europe, to leave this month but it is understood the midfielder does now wish to go.
Mata has dropped down the pecking order at Chelsea, with Mourinho having decided that Oscar, Eden Hazard and Willian will form his attacking trio behind a central striker.
Mata has not made an appearance for Chelsea since he showed his frustration at being substituted during the victory over Southampton on New Year's Day and is understood to be concerned he will not figure in Spain's World Cup squad for Brazil.
United have warmed to the idea of making a bid for Mata but are concerned that Chelsea will rebuff an official approach, especially considering the fierce battle between the two clubs last summer over the future of Wayne Rooney.
United remain adamant they do not want to sell Rooney.
It is believed, however, that should United make a bid of around £37m for Mata it could persuade Chelsea to sell, especially if they also give Mourinho plenty of time to bring in a replacement before the window closes on January 31. That means an offer would have to be made in the next few days.
Informal discussions have taken place between intermediaries to ascertain both clubs' intentions and it could be United's 3-1 loss at Stamford Bridge on Sunday - which left them 14 points behind the leaders - will persuade Chelsea to sell as United are no longer title contenders and face a desperate fight to finish in the top four.
If Mata is signed the fee would break United's transfer record, which was set on deadline day in September 2008 when they paid Tottenham Hotspur £30.7m for striker Dimitar Berbatov.
United have significant funds to spend and will back manager David Moyes in the transfer market heavily this summer, having struggled to land their targets during the last summer window.