Wenger admits Juan Mata interest
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has admitted his interest in signing Chelsea midfielder Juan Mata but believes it is unlikely the Stamford Bridge club would sell a star player to a domestic rival.
Tottenham have also been heavily linked with a move for Mata in the last 48 hours as they look to find replacements for the soon to be departing Gareth Bale, even though Blues boss Jose Mourinho continues to insist the Spaniard remains a key player in his plans.
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The BBC have reported that Mata’s father, Juan Senior, was spotted in the Emirates Stadium Directors Box watching Tuesday night's Champions League qualifier, which will fuel the rumours that his son may well be preparing for a high profile move in the coming days.
Yet while Wenger, after his side's Champions League win against Fenerbahce on Tuesday night, that Mata "could be on the market", he seemed downbeat on his chances of signing the midfielder who came close to joining the Gunners in the summer of 2011.
"I like him. I have heard like you because I watched the game last night, that Juan Mata could be on the market," Wenger told reporters. "I don't know. There is, anyway, a reluctance in England to sell to each other."
While the post-match discussion continued to focus on Wenger’s transfer targets and his possible interest in Mata and Manchester United's Wayne Rooney, the Arsenal boss insisted he is now content to work with his current squad as they turn their attentions to Sunday's North London derby against Tottenham.
"I don’t know what to say anymore (on transfers), I've said it all before," he added. "There is nothing new to report. We want now to prepare for the next game and leave all the rest. We work hard on it and we do the maximum. I cannot tell you more than we are on the market. Everybody knows. The whole world knows that now.
"I cannot be more creative than that in the press conferences because all has been said and nothing has been concluded yet so I can understand your questions but I cannot give you more answers at the moment."
Meanwhile, Atletico Madrid President Enrique Cerezo suspects his interest in signing Mata from Chelsea before next Monday's transfer deadline may flounder on financial grounds.
Reports in Spain had suggested that Atletico were keen to pursue a move for the 25-year-old, but it seems those hopes are already forlorn.
"Mata is a good player, but he is in the Premier League and over there they are paid a lot," Cerezo is quoted in the Daily Mirror. "We have a fantastic squad and right now I do not know if the coach is planning to bring in anyone else or not, but even so, we have seven days."
Wenger preferred to pour praise on match-winner Aaron Ramsey, who netted a brace to round out Arsenal's 5-0 aggregate win, as the star of the Gunners' season so far continues to impress.
"He’s playing his best football, because he’s improving every year," Wenger said. "He’s a youngster and he’s getting better and better. Confidence can be important, it’s as simple as that. Maybe he feels more comfortable because he feels people trust him."
Arsenal’s passage to the main draw of the Champions League on Thursday confirms they will compete in Europe’s elite competition for a 16th successive season.
"I believe that at the top level, the most difficult is to be consistent," added Wenger. "Of course it’s an achievement because if you look at the clubs in Europe who have done it, there are only three clubs that have done it in the whole of Europe.
"I hear a lot that it’s not enough and I agree with that. But still it shows that we have been remarkably consistent. Our ambition is much higher than that and I take that on board from everybody."