LONDON (AP) — Juan Mata is edging closer to joining Manchester United from Chelsea as the Premier League champions try to strengthen their squad after a lackluster first half of the season.
In a sign that Mata's Chelsea departure is nearing, a person familiar with the situation said the midfielder did not train with the first team on Wednesday.
United said it is yet to make a formal bid for Mata, but another person with knowledge of the situation said the club is pursuing the Spaniard in the January transfer window.
The people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the transfer is not being discussed publicly.
According to Britain's Press Association, United has lodged a 40 million-pound ($66-million) bid through a third party. United and its manager, David Moyes, would not take questions on Mata in the post-match news conference after the team's League Cup semifinal defeat to Sunderland later Wednesday.
The 25-year-old Mata, Chelsea's player of the year for the last two seasons, has fallen out of favor since Jose Mourinho returned as manager in June. He has not played for the team since the Jan. 1 victory against Southampton.
Chelsea pulled further away from United in the Premier League title race by beating Moyes' side 3-1 on Sunday.
While Chelsea is third, just two points from the summit, United is seventh, 14 points behind leader Arsenal.