Tottenham Hotspur manager Andre Villas-Boas has admitted the club have very little chance of signing Juan Mata from Chelsea.
Despite winning consecutive player of the season awards during his two seasons with the Blues, the Spaniard remains linked with a sensational move away from Stamford Bridge, although Jose Mourinho has repeatedly claimed the club are not looking to sell one of their star players.
The arrival of Brazilian midfielder Willian has increased speculation that the club may consider selling Mata as they now boast an embarrassment of riches in their attacking midfield options. Talk of an exit also intensified after the 24-year-old was also omitted from the squad for Chelsea's 0-0 draw with Manchester United on Monday night.
With Gareth Bale on the brink of sealing his move to Real Madrid, Tottenham are on the lookout for additional creative options to fill the void left by the Welshman. Mata has been linked with filling such a role, although Villas-Boas doesn't believe Chelsea would consider selling to a 'title rival' in Tottenham.
"Mata is a great player - player of the season last season, a very important player for Chelsea," the Tottenham boss was quoted as saying by Sky Sports.
"But Chelsea wouldn't sell to Tottenham in any way, as they think we are title contenders.
"They're just not going to strengthen another team that, in their option, are rivals for the title."
Wary of the impossibility of signing Mata, Tottenham are still relentlessly pursuing additional options ahead of the closure of the transfer window on Monday.
Ajax midfielder Christian Eriksen and Roma forward Erik Lamela have emerged as prime targets in recent weeks. Roma have announced that they have agreed a fee of £30m with Tottenham for Argentine Lamela, while Ajax have granted the Premier League club permission to speak to 21-year-old Eriksen, leaving his coach Frank De Boer to rue his likely departure.
"His departure will be an enormous loss, Chris was very important for us," the Ajax boss told De Telegraaf.
"We always have work in a good way. Players who are that good and also the ideal professional are, for a coach, the most ideal players.
When asked if he thinks Eriksen will succeed in the Premier League, he responded: "It would surprise me if that won't happen."