ARSENAL manager Arsene Wenger last night admitted his interest in Chelsea outcast Juan Mata after seeing his men march into tomorrow’s Champions League group stage draw.
Midfielder Aaron Ramsey scored twice as the Gunners beat Fenerbahce 2-0 to secure a 5-0 aggregate play-off victory and a spot in the competition for the 16th successive season.
Mata’s father, also the midfielder’s agent, was said to be watching from the directors’ box and Wenger spoke of his admiration for a player he tried to sign from Valencia in 2011.
“I have heard that Juan Mata could be on the market but I don't know,” he said. “There is a reluctance in England to sell to each other. [But] I like him.”
Wenger also refused to rule out following up his interest in Wayne Rooney, after the Manchester United striker rejected Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho’s call to publicly demand a move, but played down his hopes of an audacious transfer.
Any bids before Monday night’s deadline could also be influenced by further injuries sustained last night, with forward Lukas Podolski hamstrung and out for three weeks.
Ramsey, who tapped in from close range on 25 minutes and steered in a volleyed second 18 minutes from time, was taken off late on despite it leaving Arsenal with 10 men.
Wenger withdrew the Welshman, despite all three substitutions having been made, with Sunday’s north London derby against Spurs in mind.