Old Trafford bosses hope lucrative offer will persuade Jose Mourinho to sell while the Spaniard is open to the move to revive his World Cup dream.
Chelsea were on Monday night braced for a possible bid for Juan Mata from Manchester United.
A deal, which would break United’s transfer record, has been discussed with intermediaries. United would have to offer around £37 million for the 25-year-old Spain international in the hope of pushing a deal through.
United sources insisted on Monday night that no bid had been made but it is understood that the club do admire Mata and might consider a move.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has stated that he does not want Mata, who has been linked to a host of clubs throughout Europe, to leave this month but it is understood the midfielder does now want to go.
Mata has dropped down the pecking order at Chelsea with Mourinho having decided that Oscar, Eden Hazard and Willian will form his attacking trio behind a central striker.
Mata has not made an appearance for Chelsea since he showed his frustration at being substituted during the victory over Southampton on New Year’s Day and is understood to be concerned he will not figure in Spain’s World Cup squad for Brazil.
United have warmed to the idea of making a bid for Mata but are concerned that Chelsea will rebuff an official approach, especially considering the fierce battle between the two clubs last summer over the future of Wayne Rooney. United remain adamant they do not want to sell Rooney.
It is believed, however, that should United make a bid of around £37 million for Mata it could persuade Chelsea to sell especially if they also give Mourinho plenty of time to bring in a replacement before the window closes on Jan 31. That means an offer would have to be made in the next few days.
Informal discussions have taken place between intermediaries to ascertain both clubs’ intentions and it could be United’s 3-1 loss at Stamford Bridge on Sunday – which left them 14 points behind the leaders – will persuade Chelsea to sell as United are no longer title contenders and face a desperate fight to finish in the top four.
If Mata is signed the fee would break United’s transfer record which was set on deadline day in September 2008 when they paid Tottenham Hotspur £30.7 million for striker Dimitar Berbatov.
United have significant funds to spend and will back manager David Moyes in the transfer market heavily this summer having struggled to land their targets during the last summer window.
Last Friday Mourinho was emphatic that Mata would not be allowed to leave Chelsea this month, replying with a simple “no” when asked whether he would let him go.
Nevertheless Mata has become increasingly unsettled at Chelsea at his lack of first-team opportunities but Mourinho will only allow him to go if he can bolster his squad.
Mata was signed by Chelsea in August 2011 with the club paying Valencia £23.5 million and has won the club’s player of the year award for the past two seasons and was named in the PFA team of the year for 2012-13. However Mata has struggled to adapt to the style of play that Mourinho has been demanding and if he does not leave this month appears set to go in the summer.
Moyes is planning a personal scouting mission this week to watch Borussia Mönchengladbach midfielder Patrick Herrmann against European champions Bayern Munich.
With United facing a blank weekend following FA Cup elimination against Swansea City earlier this month, Moyes is preparing to fly out to watch the 22-year-old in Friday’s Bundesliga clash at Borussia-Park.
Moyes has yet to add to his United squad during the January transfer window but with the Scot determined to approach the summer window with a list of attainable targets, Herrmann has emerged as an alternative to Marco Reus, whose escape clause at Borussia Dortmund cannot be triggered until 2015.
Herrmann, who has represented Germany at every level below the senior team, is regarded as a rising star in the Bundesliga and a key factor in Mönchengladbach’s title challenge this season.
The attacking midfielder earned his first senior call-up to Joachim Löw’s full squad for the World Cup qualifier against Kazakhstan last March.
Moyes will also monitor Max Kruse, Mönchengladbach’s Germany striker, with Bayern defender Dante also likely to be assessed because of uncertainty the Brazilian’s future at the Allianz Arena.
Meanwhile, United captain Nemanja Vidic has urged the squad to continue to believe in the club’s prospects this season following Sunday’s defeat at Chelsea.
Vidic, who will serve a three-match suspension after being sent off at Stamford Bridge, said: “It’s important we stick together and work hard for each other. If we do that then I think we can turn things around.
“If you look at the whole game [at Stamford Bridge] I don’t think we played too badly. I don’t think losing three goals really tells the story.
“But we just have to stay positive and keep fighting to be in amongst the top teams at the end of the season. Hopefully, with a bit of luck, we’ll have better days. On Sunday, we were good for long periods, but it was one of those days that turned out badly for us.”