Chelsea midfielder Juan Mata was a surprise omission from training this morning at the club's Cobham base as speculation surrounding a proposed £37m move to Manchester United continues to strengthen.
Mata has surprisingly reduced to a relatively peripheral role at Stamford Bridge by Blues boss Jose Mourinho this season, who prefers Oscar, Willian and Eden Hazard in advanced midfield role.
The 25-year-old was not among the Chelsea first-team players who trained today ahead of Saturday's FA Cup clash against Stoke City and expects to undertake a medical with the Red Devils by this weekend at the latest, according to the Daily Mail.
Manchester United will need to break their transfer record to land the Spanish international though, a player Chelsea have named the club's player of the year in each of his two full seasons in West London.
Blues boss Mourinho has been non-committal on Mata's long-term future in recent weeks, insisting that the playmaker can leave Stamford Bridge at the right price if he makes a formal transfer request.
United and Chelsea have so far declined to comment publicly on the possibility of Mata making a shock switch to the Premier League champions in January, with little over a week left for clubs to conclude their transfer business before the January window slams shut.