Tottenham and north London rivals Arsenal are rumoured to share an interest in Chelsea’s out-of-favour midfielder Juan Mata, but with Juventus and Napoli reportedly keen on him too Italy seems the more likely destination at this point.
The 25-year-old came into the new campaign as two-time reigning Chelsea player of the year with a brace of European club competition winner’s medals around his neck.
Yet under Jose Mourinho he has played just 145 of a potential 720 minutes in 2013/14 and seems not to be foremost in his new manager’s plans.
In a World Cup season in which bwin are currently an industry-best 13/2 about defending champions Spain for victory, the country’s numerous midfield aces will be busting their guts to book a ticket to Brazil.
Such a lack of minutes could well concern Mata enough to seek an exit from Stamford Bridge in January should his marginalisation continue.
Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas signed the neglected Spaniard from Valencia during his stint at Chelsea, gazumping Arsene Wenger in the process and both men have been strongly linked with fresh approaches for his signature come January.
The sales of Joe Cole and Daniel Sturridge to a Liverpool side recovering from their Kenny Dalglish-induced exile from a Champions League challenge is the closest Liverpool have come to letting players go to a close rival in the Roman Abramovich era.
Neither had anything like the worth to the Blues demonstrated by Mata last season when they departed and as such a move to Spurs or Arsenal has about as much chance of going through as Wayne Rooney’s transfer to Stamford Bridge or Luis Suarez’s Emirates switch.
It would be the height of foolishness for Chelsea to allow the diminutive midfielder’s talents to fall into the hands of rivals who may dump them out of the Champions League spots.
Jose Mourinho is far too shrewd for that and if the Spaniard really doesn’t fit into his plans then selling him to another league for a whopping fee may be the answer.
Napoli and Juventus are both understood to be interested and with the leading midfield roles at Real Madrid and Barcelona already containing their fair share of Mata-a-likes, Serie A looks his most logical next port of call at present.