Rafa Benitez's hopes of signing Spain international fade as contract D-Day edges closer
Rafa Benitez's hopes of landing Juan Mata this summer appear to be over with the Spaniard set to sign a new deal at Manchester United.
Benitez, who worked with the creative midfielder during a brief spell at Chelsea, had reportedly been hopeful a deal could be struck with the out-of-contract Spain international.
But any hopes, however remote, look set to be dashed with the 31-year-old putting pen to paper at Old Trafford.
Any deal for Mata would have been largely dependent on Benitez getting assurances he could spend his transfer budget how he sees fit - which appears to be the main sticking point in negotiations with the Magpies' top brass.
The player's age and his wages would inevitably have proved major stumbling blocks for Benitez, while Mike Ashley retains his iron grip at St James’s Park.
Yesterday brought news of the Bin Zayed Group takeover at St James’s Park making progress, but things are far from close to conclusion. That opens up the prospect of Benitez’s contract end passing without resolution or new owners.