Manchester United will have to pay a club-record price if they hope to sign Juan Mata, reports suggest.
According to the Daily Express, the Premier League champions have been informed by the Blues that they must pay £40 million for the Spaniard - a fee that would dwarf the £30.75 million they paid for Bulgarian forward Dimitar Berbatov in 2008.
Spanish international Mata was previously an integral fixture at Chelsea following his move from Valencia in 2011, yet under Jose Mourinho - who returned to Stamford Bridge for his second spell in charge during the summer - he has cut an increasingly desperate figure after seeing his role in the side radically reduced.
With Brazilian starlet Oscar handed the reigns just behind the lone striker in Mourinho's system, Mata has often been deployed in the wide areas and has yet to score a goal in 13 Premier League appearances so far this season.
The former Valencia star's difficult situation at Chelsea has seen transfer speculation involving his name rapidly gather pace once again in recent days.
Overnight, reports had suggested that Manchester United had yet to table an official offer for Mata but were nevertheless preparing to force Chelsea into a difficult decision on the player's future with a testing bid of £37 million.
It now look as if that sum will not be enough to see Mata switch to Old Trafford, however, with Chelsea seemingly pushing to get maximum value out of one of their most prized assets.
With David Moyes coming under increasing pressure from supporters to improve his underperforming squad and many of those fans seemingly fearful that Manchester United could face a dismal repeat of a summer in which the club failed to land several high-profile targets, you would surely expect that the Red Devils will be reluctant to quibble over a paltry difference of just £3 million.
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