In Brief

Man Utd close to Mata deal as player misses Chelsea training

Spaniard could move this week in £37m deal - but can United hold on to Rooney?

RUMOURS linking out-of-favour Chelsea playmaker Juan Mata with a record move to Manchester United gathered pace today after the Spaniard missed training with the Blues and his advisors flew into the country.

The Daily Mail says the the playmaker is "convinced he will have a medical before the weekend" and says a deal worth £37m is likely to be concluded soon.

Mata is "determined to leave Chelsea" reports the paper, while David Moyes is anxious to bring in a big name signing this month as his side struggle in the race to qualify for the Champions League. The fee is a huge increase in what Chelsea paid for the player, who arrived in a £23.5m deal from Valencia in 2011, and United are refusing to get carried away after missing out on a string of big-name signings in the summer. However, a deal looks to be on the cards.

If Mata does arrive this month he will end up playing alongside Wayne Rooney - but not for long if the Daily Telegraph is to be believed. It says that the United striker has become one of Real Madrid's main summer targets if they are unable to lure Sergio Aguero or Luis Suarez, who are both on long-term contracts, to the Bernabeu.

United are, on paper, determined not to sell the star striker, but their resolve will be tested by a £25m offer, which is a lot more than they can expect to get for him once he enters the final year of his contract next season. "Rooney's failure to commit his future to United and the prospect of playing again with Cristiano Ronaldo at the Bernabeu Stadium has given Real confidence that a deal can be struck for the player," says the Telegraph.

If the Gunners want to get their hands on Benfica marksman Rodrigo then they'll have to stump up more than £25m. That's the news from Talksport, which claims that Arsenal are just one of a number of clubs on the trail of the 22-year-old sharpshooter.

Zenit St Petersburg and Valencia have also been linked with a player Talksport describes as one of the star performers in the Portuguese top-flight. Apparently Zenit and Valencia have both made their interest in Rodrigo clear to Benfica with Portuguese newspaper O Jogo claiming the Russian outfit have made a £25m bid.

But Arsenal's hopes aren't over with Talksport reporting that Benfica want to spark a bidding war by holding on to the Spanish Under-21 international until the last day of January's transfer window.

Meanwhile the Evening Standard reports that Bayern Munich are back in the running for Tomas Rosicky. The Arsenal midfielder's contract expires at the end of this season and the 33-year-old veteran Czech playmaker has yet to sign an extension. That's led to speculation in some quarters that Rosicky could be tempted by a move to Germany to see out his days with Bayern, who have long been linked with the player.

Though he's started only seven  Premier League matches this season, Rosicky is highly valued by Arsene Wenger, who often turns to his experience in the second half of matches. Nevertheless the Standard says Bayern are serious about signing him because Rosicky's "versatility is viewed as an important factor".

In other news, Sky Sports says that Julio Cesar is expected to leave Queens Park Rangers in the next ten days. The Brazilian goalkeeper has lost his place in the starting line-up to Robert Green and a move back to Italy is expected for the 34-year-old. When asked if Cesar is likely to leave Loftus Road this month, QPR chairman Tony Fernandes replied: "I think so. It's a waste for someone with such immense talent not to be playing and I think he is one of the best goalkeepers in the world, so I'm sure someone will pick him up and let's see how that goes."

The BBC reports that Stoke City have confirmed the signing of United States international Juan Agudelo but have been forced to send him on loan to FC Utrecht after failing to obtain a work permit for the frontman. Capped 17 times by the USA, the 21-year-old Agudelo joins the Potters from Major League Soccer side New England Revolution on a free transfer.

However with his application for a work permit rejected by the Premier League in November - a shock decision that bewildered Stoke because no reasons were given - he has been farmed out to Utrecht until Stoke can reapply for a permit in March.

Finally, the Daily Star claims that Liverpool are in talks to sign Norway international midfielder Valon Berisha from Red Bull Salzburg. Citing sources in the Norwegian media, the Star says that Brendan Rodgers sees the 20-year-old Berisha as the man to fill in for Lucas Leiva, out for two months with a knee injury picked up in Saturday's draw against Aston Villa. Apparently Liverpool scouts have already watched Berisha in action for Salzburg and they hope the fact that former manager Gerard Houllier is now Salzburg's global sports director will work in their favour. It's believed Liverpool will have to part with £2.5m in order to secure the young playmaker's signature.

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