Liverpool Transfer News: Arsenal Set to Capture Long-Term Anfield Target

Jake WareCorrespondent IIIJuly 29, 2011

VALENCIA, SPAIN - APRIL 10:  Juan Mata of Valencia looks on during the La Liga match between Valencia and Villarreal at Estadio Mestalla on April 10, 2011 in Valencia, Spain.  Valencia won 5-0.  (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images)
Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

When Kenny Dalglish was hired as Liverpool's interim manager following the departure of Roy Hodgson, he immediately went on a spending spree as he looked to improve his team right away. One player he tried to sign already in January was Valencia's speedster Juan Mata, who would be brought in to solve the club's left-winger problem.

Now, the Spanish international looks set to join bitter rivals Arsenal for a fee of £15 million, at least £5 million less than Liverpool's highest bid early on this summer.

Mata's contract runs out in the summer of 2012, and Valencia were rejecting bids early on in the hope that they would be able to re-sign him to a long-term contract. This looks increasingly unlikely, however, and the Mestalla club may have to pay by selling him to a lower price than they would have been able to originally.

Dalglish made several bids in an attempt to lure the star away, but Valencia stood firm. Instead, the Scot solved his problems by signing Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson, both having played left-wing in the past.

Liverpool now have a strong, deep midfield, but we all would have loved to see Mata bombing down the wing. One of the main problems for the club in recent seasons has been the lack of wideout speed. That appears to now have been solved with the acquisitions of Luis Suarez and Jordan Henderson. 

It will be difficult for Liverpool management and fans alike to see what might have been. Instead of Anfield colours, Mata will be playing in Arsenal's red shirt. While the team is greatly improved, you cannot help but thinking: If only Dalglish had waited...