Mata’s Manchester United contract expires this summer, though the club and player are still in talks over a new deal to keep him at Old Trafford.
If that does not materialise, however, The Sun are reporting Rafael Benitez wants his fellow Spaniard to join him at St. James’ Park – providing his own talks over a new deal to stay on as Newcastle manager are concluded successfully.
Benitez has clashed with Newcastle hierarchy over transfer budgets almost constantly since bring the club back into the Premier League in 2017, after the Magpies had been relegated at the end of the 2015-16 season despite the Spaniard taking over with 10 games left.
Since then the former Valencia, Inter Milan, Liverpool, and Real Madrid manager has kept Newcastle in the top flight despite working with a shoestring budget under owner Mike Ashley’s stewardship.
Signing Mata, who has also been linked with Barcelona, would be a huge coup for the club – almost as big as getting Benitez himself.
The Spanish playmaker is a Real Madrid academy graduate who became one of his country’s highest-rated players while at Valencia, and after joining Chelsea in 2011, he won the Champions League in his first season at the club. He was the Blues’ player of the season for two straight seasons from 2011 to 2013, before leaving in the 2013-14 season.
Mata was a club-record signing for Man United when he joined in January 2014, and has since made over 200 appearances for the Red Devils, on occasion captaining the side.
This season he joined a select group of players who have scored 50 goals and tallied 50 assists in the Premier League, a feat managed by just 27 players before him.
He is well-regarded as a senior member of the United side, and the club would like to keep him even if they cannot guarantee him a regular starting place in a summer where they have several targets for the right-wing berth Mata usually occupies.
Barcelona goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen has reportedly agreed a move to Benfica, with the clubs now negotiating over a fee.
According to Goal, Benfica value Cillessen at €15million, while Barcelona are holding out for €25million, despite the Netherlands international having made just 10 appearances for La Blaugrana this season, and only 31 since joining on the final day of the summer transfer window in 2016.
That was the summer Claudio Bravio left Barcelona, but Cillessen has been unable to beat out Marc-Andre ter Stegen for the No 1 spot since then, as the German has developed into one of the world’s best goalkeepers.
The Dutch international starred at the 2014 World Cup as the Oranje reached the semi-finals, though the most memorable moment involving him at the tournament was when he was substituted for Tim Krul right before a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final against Costa Rica, with the then-Newcastle keeper saving two spot-kicks to see Netherlands through.
Cillessen was left in goal for the shoot-out in the semi-final, as Louis van Gaal had used all three of his substitutions in that game, and the Dutch lost to Argentina with the goalkeeper failing to make a single save.
The former Ajax star has grown frustrated at his lack of playing time at Barcelona, and has been desperate for a transfer since last season.
If Barcelona and Benfica can agree a transfer fee, he may finally get his wish.
Borussia Dortmund have signed Julian Brandt from under the noses of Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich.
The Bayer Leverkusen player joins new signing Thorgan Hazard as well as German international defender Nico Schulz.
Brandt has 24 international 24 caps himself and has signed on a five-year, €25-million deal that will keep him at Dortmund until 2024, the club said on its website.
“I am someone who sometimes follows his instincts and for me a good feeling is important,” he said. “And I had a good feeling about Borussia Dortmund.”
Dortmund lost the title to Bayern on the final day of the season, finishing two points behind but Brandt is excited to be part of another challenge for the crown next season.
“I want to progress and Dortmund just missed the title, so there is room for progress,” he said.
Earlier on Wednesday, Dortmund confirmed the signing of Hazard – Eden Hazard’s younger brother – on a five-year deal from Borussia Monchengladbach.
“I am grateful for five great years at Borussia Monchengladbach and the wonderful memories,” said Hazard in a statement on Dortmund’s website. “Now was exactly the right point in time to take the next step in my career.”
The Belgian has scored 46 goals and provided 44 assists in 182 appearances for Gladbach.