Arsenal’s infuriating summer of being linked with every big name on the market but signing none is destined to continue after rumours of Juan Mata arriving were ignited by his father’s sighting at the Emirates.
A day after Mata’s controversial omission from the Chelsea side that met Man Utd increased gossip that he would be sold, his pops/agent saw Arsenal beat Fenerbahce from the luxury of the club’s directors’ box.
Arsene Wenger was evasive when asked about the appearance, yet Jose Mourinho was anything but in the aftermath, insisting that his decision to bench the Spanish playmaker was made solely for fitness reasons.
Even if there is merit to speculation that Chelsea’s 2012/13 player of the year doesn’t fit the Mourinho mould, it is unthinkable that he would allow him to depart for a title rival, even a distant 16/1 candidate.
Since the Special One first stepped inside Stamford Bridge in 2004, there have been only three instances of him letting someone join a positional foe, and each of those deals could be rationalised.
His motive for sanctioning William Gallas’ Arsenal move in 2006 was to upgrade to Ashley Cole.
Meanwhile, Inter loaned Alessandro Mancini and Nicolas Burdisso to AC Milan and Roma due to their shortcomings.
That latter switch almost backfired as Burdisso’s borrowers Roma finished within two points of Inter, with the Argentine defender starting almost every game.
There would be no such logical explanation for gifting the Gunners one of the Premier League’s top performers.
Mourinho might doubt Mata’s ability to slot into his system, however, he isn’t blind to his quality. Were he to cash in, there would be limitless overseas suitors.
Missing out on Mata wouldn’t be the weightiest blow of Arsenal’s gloomy window though because they are well stocked for attacking midfielders.
It is far more important to secure a ball winner and, if possible, a rival for Olivier Giroud up front.