Manchester United playmaker Juan Mata was watched by three key members of the Juventus hierarchy against Tottenham on Sunday afternoon.
Beppe Marotta, Fabio Guild and Massimiliano Allegri - Juve’s CEO, sports director and head coach - visited White Hart Lane to run the rule over both Mata and Tottenham winger Erik Lamela, who flourished in Serie A with AS Roma.
This is according to respected Italian publication Gazzetta dello Sport, who understand that Juventus would be keen to strike a deal with Manchester United for the Spain international, but acknowledge that the odds of a transfer being agreed in January are extremely slim.
Mata shines against Tottenham
During the first half of the 0-0 draw between United and Spurs, Mata produced arguably his best 45 minutes for the Red Devils since joining the Premier League giants in a £37.1 million deal from Chelsea back in January.
The diminutive attacking midfielder fashioned several great chances for his teammates; his passing was immaculate, while he also proved to manager Louis van Gaal that he possesses the physical capacity not to be overawed by imposing opponents.
Mata tailed off in the second half, and should have scored after being presented with a wonderful opportunity to break the deadlock, but was still Manchester United’s most impressive performer.
Mata hitting top form
Earlier this season speculation was rife that Mata would be moved on by the Red Devils after one full year at the club.
But since scoring the winning goal after coming off the bench against Crystal Palace in November, Mata has been in superb form for Van Gaal’s side, and looks set to retain his place as United’s No. 10 even when Wayne Rooney, Angel di Maria, Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao are all fit.
Subsequently, as Gazzetta suggest, Juventus have very little - if any - chance of convincing Manchester United to sell the technically-gifted playmaker in the New Year.
It’s possible that Juventus will have more luck in their pursuit of Lamela, who was brought on for the final 12 minutes on Sunday.
Tottenham signed the Argentina international for a club-record fee in the summer of 2013, following the departure of Gareth Bale, but have only seen glimpses of his best form.
This season he has scored one Premier League goal and contributed four assists. Mata, meanwhile, has five league goals and three assists to his name so far this term.