Rafael Benitez is reportedly preparing a bid in excess of £20m for Chelsea’s unsettled playmaker Juan Mata after Jose Mourinho told the Spaniard that he was free to leave during the January transfer window.
Despite being crowned Chelsea’s Player of the Year for the past two seasons, Mata has been cast adrift in Mourinho’s second spell at Stamford Bridge as the Portuguese opts to play Brazilian playmaker Oscar in his place.
Benitez, the Napoli manager and Mourinho’s long-term adversary in the press, has been monitoring the situation closely after forging a friendship with the 25-year-old during the Europa League winning campaign of 2013.
After the Blues eased to a 3-0 victory over Southampton earlier this week, Mourinho revealed that Mata is welcome to leave should a move present itself. Since then, according to reports, the likes of Manchester United, Paris Saint Germain and Juventus have all joined Benitez in considering a move.
After costing Chelsea £26m from Valencia under the reign of Andre-Villas Boas in 2011, Mata is said to be confused by his manager’s claims that his work rate is unsatisfactory. With thirty-two Spanish caps to his name, he is also concerned that the dispute could damage his chances of adding to that tally in Brazil later this year. With uncertainty over his future, Mata's agent recently sought assurances there are no plans currently in place to offload him.
Mourinho, on the other hand, appears to have made his mind up and will be keen to negotiate any offers in order to finance his forays into the market this winter.