£15m Mata's the next Juan for Arsenal
Published 23:01 07/07/11 By John Cross
Arsene Wenger is desperate to clinch a £15million deal for Juan Mata - but NOT as a direct replacement for Samir Nasri.
The Arsenal boss is increasingly confident of landing Valencia’s Spanish winger and negotiations are underway between the clubs.
But Wenger is not looking at Mata, 23, to come in for Nasri, whose Arsenal future is still uncertain after he stalled on a new contract and is ready to quit.
Arsenal have been tracking versatile Mata - who has played for Spain at senior and under-21 levels - for months and believe he will be a top class addition to the squad.
Wenger is also hoping that such a statement of intent will help persuade Nasri to sign a new £90,000-a-week contract, despite strong interest from Manchester United, Manchester City and Inter Milan.
United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has made an enquiry, and it is believed Nasri fancies a move to Old Trafford, with Arsenal facing a dilemma as to whether to sell now or risk losing him for nothing next summer.
But the Gunners have told United there is nothing doing, even at £20m.
Nasri may even be willing to sit out the final year of his contract and wait to go to Old Trafford rather than go anywhere else.
The Frenchman, 24, returned to pre-season training yesterday and talks with Wenger will continue in the next few days.
Arsenal have booked him to go on their Far East tour, which begins when they fly to Kuala Lumpur on Sunday.
Ivory Coast forward Gervinho will join the trip once he has his work permit, and Mata could be next in.
The Spanish forward’s father, Juan senior, admitted there has been interest.
He said: “There have been calls from foreign clubs but now the decision rests with Valencia. He is on his holidays.”
Valencia have insisted publicly that the player is not for sale but talks are ongoing.