Chelsea step up the pace in chase to prise Juan Mata from Valencia

Chelsea step up the pace in chase to prise Juan Mata from ValenciaChelsea hope to succeed where Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur failed earlier this summer by prising the Spain winger Juan Mata from Valencia as André Villas-Boas's side step up their attempts to add to their squad before the transfer window ends.

Mata has joined Luka Modric and Raul Meireles as a target for Chelsea, who are understood to have made an informal inquiry to the Spanish club as to the 23-year-old's potential availability. The player had effectively been on the market for €25m (£22m) until 31 July but a buyout clause in his contract expired then, allowing Valencia to dictate the fee.

Spurs had indicated a willingness to meet the €25m price before the cut-off only for Mata to show no interest in moving to White Hart Lane as he wishes to play Champions League football. Arsenal, for their part, were unable to table an acceptable bid in time while talks over Cesc Fábregas's prospective move to Barcelona dragged on. Arsène Wenger's team still technically have an offer on the table for Mata, though Chelsea appear to have leapfrogged them in the pecking order for the winger.

Their initial hopes of securing him for a similar fee to the original buyout clause appear to have been rebuffed, with Valencia pushing for €30m before they will release the player.

Yet that would be within Chelsea's reach and Villas-Boas is anxious to add natural width to his line-up. Interest is also retained in Modric, still the team's principal target, and the Liverpool midfielder Raul Meireles, who is in effect available at Anfield and would add to Chelsea's midfield options with Yossi Benayoun still expected to move on before the end of the month.

Powered by article was written by Dominic Fifield, for The Guardian on Wednesday 17th August 2011 22.30 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


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