Man United to rescue unhappy Chelsea misfit from the doldrums

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The latest episode in the soap opera that has become Juan Mata’s existence at Chelsea took a stroppy turn on New Year’s Day, as the Spaniard reacted sulkily to being substituted against Southampton with the score still at 0-0.

His show of dissatisfaction predictably drew questions from the press to Jose Mourinho about the state of Mata’s future at the club, especially with the January transfer window beginning to simmer.

The Portuguese’s response will have put a number of Europe’s top clubs on red-alert, as Mourinho claimed he didn’t want to sell the miniature magician but would listen to him if he said he wanted out.

With the World Cup looming large on the horizon, Mata’s frustrations at a lack of pitch time, he’s started just nine Premier League games this season, are understandable.

In line with the furore of football’s annual mid-season shopping spree, Ladbrokes have opened a book on where a number of players will land come February 1 and the former Valencia man is among the list.

Chelsea are the 1/2 favourites to retain the midfielder’s services given Mourinho’s admission that selling the player isn’t among his January priorities, with Serie A side Inter Milan and French champions Paris Saint-Germain the 3/1 joint-second favourites.

Arsenal and Manchester United are the co-outsiders at 20/1 but it is the Old Trafford club that remain the best bet of the quartet.

David Moyes’ hunt for a creative midfielder was equally well documented and fruitless in the sunnier months, and it is almost certain that the Scot will renew the chase this January given his side sit seventh in the league and 11 points off league-leading Arsenal.

That the defending champions are rated as the same price as Arsenal, who splashed the cash on Mesut Ozil in the summer and are well-stocked for midfield men, seems strange given the Manchester club’s obvious need in that department.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.