Could Juan Mata be returning to where his senior career truly began? That's the belief of the Daily Express on Wednesday, as they report that the attacking midfielder is being lined up by Real Madrid should Angel Di Maria leave the club.
Mata, who joined Real from Oviedo as a teenager but failed to establish himself at the Santiago Bernabeu, could be heading to the Spanish capital depending on the club's other January business.
The paper reports:
Reports in Spain suggest that Mata has been offered to both Real and Barcelona this month after falling out of favour under Jose Mourinho at Stamford Bridge.
And with the player set for showdown talks with the Chelsea hierarchy after reacting furiously to being substituted against Southampton on New Year's Day, Real are keen to capitalise on the player's discontent.
Meanwhile, Di Maria's antics at Real following the arrival of Gareth Bale in the summer have made his position at the club increasingly untenable, and the player did little to alleviate the situation by grabbing his crotch at home supporters as he was substituted in Monday night's match against Celta Vigo.
Manchester United and Arsenal have both been linked with a move for the 25-year-old Argentine international, but it seems that Monaco lead the chase and are willing to pay in excess of £20m to bring Di Maria on board.
If the Di Maria deal does go through, Real could turn their attentions to Mata—although Xabi Alonso may also find himself drawn into the deal. The Express adds:
That would be more than enough to offset the £16.5m Chelsea are believed to want for Mata without even taking into account the possibility of a possible swap deal involving Xabi Alonso who is reportedly on Chelsea's wish-list.
However, Real president Florentino Perez remains unconvinced about the signing given Mata's past interactions with the club he left as a youngster to join Valencia.
Ultimately, the decision will rest with Italian coach Carlo Ancelotti, whose time at Chelsea did not overlap with Mata but is known to be an admirer of the Spaniard.