White Hart Lane and Emirates Stadium boss’s fight over Spaniard.
Tottenham try to preempt Arsenal with £22m bid for Valencia’s Juan Mata
Tottenham Hotspur last night sought to beat Arsenal to the signing of the Valencia forward Juan Mata by tabling a bid worth close to €25m (£22m). Arsenal, whose manager, Arsène Wenger, admitted that Mata is a player he likes, remain the favourites to sign the 23-year-old but are yet to make a formal bid. Initial talks have suggested that Arsenal would offer less than Spurs, at least to begin with.
Mata’s preference is to join Arsenal but, with Harry Redknapp making little secret of his pursuit of attacking players over the past six months, Spurs are seeking to force Valencia’s hand and bring pressure to bear on the player. Mata’s camp, though, is awaiting definitive movement from Arsenal. That may yet depend on the departure of Cesc Fábregas. Sources at Barcelona said they are cautiously optimistic about signing the midfielder – and that it was him or no one.
Mata, whose contract allows him to depart Valencia for €21m before 1 August, is open to a move to the Premier League.
The long running issue relating to whether Juan Mata will leave the Mestalla this summer may well come to a head over the next day or so. This source believes that the Spaniard’s contract clause can be activated if the right price is reached and is done so very soon.
Both Arsenal and Tottenham have been linked with the speedy attacker and both North London sides appear keen to get some serious transfer spending under way. Wenger has thus far purchased Carl Jenkinson from Charlton and Gervinho from Lille and Redknapp has brought in Brad Friedel and youngsters Ceballos and Coubilay.
Ostensibly it would seem that both sides have a fair amount of attacking quality, albeit perhaps more so in their attacking midfield area than up front. Tottenham’s strike force drew a collective blank last term, albeit Roman Pavyluchenko did impress when selected. Arsenal were once again overly dependent on Robin Van Persie.
Mata can be used either as an orthodox striker but is used more frequently as a winger for both club and country. If Redknapp is to activate the release clause then he must fork out a fee that will exceed Tottenham’s record transfer fee and chairman Daniel Levy has already told the White Hart Lane boss he needs to sell before he can buy.
There are a number of players that Redknapp can afford to offload and is now just waiting for decent bids to be made. Fulham and QPR are reportedly chasing Robbie Keane, Napoli were linked with Wilson Palacios, Newcastle United and PSG supposedly want Niko Kranjcar and the likes of Younes Kaboul, Giovani dos Santos and Alan Hutton may all be deemed surplus to requirements.
Arsenal’s interest in Mata may be put on the back burner as Wenger looks to resolve defensive frailties that were once again exposed in yesterday’s Emirates Cup encounter with Boca Juniors.