Arsenal make first move with club record bid for Spain U-21 star

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Arsenal have joined Liverpool and Manchester City in the chase for Valencia’s Juan Manuel Mata and it is being reported that the Gunners have wasted little time in tabling a club record bid for the 23-year-old.

Mata recently helped Spain to victory in the European under-21 Championships and was also a member of the full Spanish squad that lifted the World Cup last year.

With the tournament in Denmark now over, Mata is keen to sort out his future and Arsenal have offered £18m for the midfielder.

With Cesc Fabregas increasingly expected to join Barcelona, Arsene Wenger will require another player to fill the void, with Mata having the technical and passing ability to rival his fellow Spaniard.

Meanwhile, Mata also provides added versatility as he can play in both the centre of the midfield or out on the left.

But despite Arsenal’s interest, it is believed that Liverpool would be the chosen destination for Mata, despite the fact that they failed to qualify for the Champions League this season.

According to Goal.com, a source close to the Spaniard said: “Mata has offers on the table from Premier League teams that are in the Champions League next season.

“But if Liverpool are interested, then the player would also be interested to hear from them. While they are not playing in Europe next season that would not be a hindrance because Liverpool is a club with a big tradition.”

Finishing in the top four of the Premier League next season will be the chief desire of Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool, although there is a strong possibility that at least one will miss out with Manchester United and Chelsea in the same battle.

The Premier League odds have Manchester City at 1/4 to finish in the Champions League qualification places next season, with Arsenal at 4/7 in the same market and Liverpool 1/1.

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.