Arsene Wenger has confirmed his interest in Chelsea midfielder Juan Mata, and hopes to bring him to Arsenal before the close of the transfer window next week, reports the Daily Mail.
Speculation about the 25-year-old's future has been rife, ever since the return of Jose Mourinho during the summer, with suggestions he could make a shock exit from west London.
Mata has been restricted to just 65 minutes of first-team action against Aston Villa in last week's 2-1 victory at Stamford Bridge. And, after he was left as an unused substitute in Monday's 0-0 draw with Manchester United at Old Trafford, rumours that he's available for transfer have heightened.
Speaking after Arsenal's 2-0 victory over Fenerbahce in their Champions League play-off second leg clash at the Emirates Stadium last night, Wenger admitted that he is an admirer of the Spain international, and would love the opportunity to sign him.
"I watched the [Chelsea] game last night that Juan Mata could be on the market," said the Frenchman. "I don't know, there is a reluctance in England to sell to each other.
"Does that frustrate me? Yes, I like him."
Despite being voted Chelsea's Player of the Year in both seasons since signing from Valencia in 2011, Mata could be restricted to a bit-part role in Mourinho's first-team in 2013/14, particularly after the recent signing of Willian from Anzhi Makhachkala in a £30million deal.
The attacking midfielder would feature much more regularly if he were to join Arsenal, and in a World Cup year where Mata is hoping to cement his place in Vicente del Bosque's 23-man squad for Brazil 2014, it might prove to be an attractive proposition.
"Everybody knows we are in the market. Wenger added. "The whole world knows that now.
"I cannot be more creative than that, because all has been said and nothing has been concluded."