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Wenger admits Arsenal are interested in Juan Mata

The Spaniard’s father and agent was reportedly in attendance at the Emirates as the Gunners secured their Champions League spot last night.

Mata warming up at Old Trafford on Monday.
Mata warming up at Old Trafford on Monday.
Image: Martin Rickett/PA Archive/Press Association Images

ARSENAL MANAGER ARSENE Wenger has expressed admiration for Juan Mata, but he was reluctant to reveal the extent of the club’s interest in the Chelsea midfielder.

Mata’s father and agent, also called Juan, was reportedly in attendance at the Emirates Stadium last night, when Arsenal beat Fenerbahce 2-0 to complete a 5-0 aggregate win in their Champions League play-off tie.

Mata was an unused substitute in Chelsea’s 0-0 draw at Manchester United on Monday, sparking media speculation about his status at Stamford Bridge, and Wenger admitted he was a fan of the Spain international.

“I’ve heard like you, because I watched the game last night (Monday), that Juan Mata could be on the market,” Wenger told journalists.

I don’t know. There is always a reluctance in England to sell to each other. Yes, I like him.”

However, when asked if Mata’s father had attended the game against Fenerbahce as a guest of the club, Wenger replied in enigmatic fashion, saying: “No. I don’t know. Maybe.”

He was even less willing to discuss a possible bid for United striker Wayne Rooney, with whom Arsenal were linked earlier in the transfer window.

“We cannot speak about players who are under contract with other clubs,” Wenger said.

“Because when a player is under contract in another club, he has to respect the contract. So if you want to buy the player, you have to speak to the club first.”

Many of Arsenal’s fans are desperate for Wenger to invest in new players, after mooted moves for Rooney, Liverpool striker Luis Suarez and new Napoli signing Gonzalo Higuain failed to materialise.

Arsenal’s apparent need for new blood was exacerbated on Tuesday when Lukas Podolski had to go off against Fenerbahce with a hamstring injury, while Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere also sustained knocks.

“We have to see how bad the injuries are,” said Wenger, whose side tackle derby rivals Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.

“I cannot tell you more than that we are on the market. Everybody knows, the whole world knows that now.”

© AFP, 2013

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