Juan Mata has revealed his desire for Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez to remain at Old Trafford amid surprising new transfer links suggesting that rivals Liverpool are interested in a deal for the Manchester United striker.
Hernandez is facing an uncertain future having been deemed surplus to requirements under Louis van Gaal last term before failing to establish himself as a first-team regular during a season-long loan at Real Madrid.
Karim Benzema had long since established himself as Los Blancos' first-choice central striker under Carlo Ancelotti. As a result, the Mexican international made just seven starts during his spell in La Liga and during an interview with AS earlier in June described his time spent on the substitutes' bench as 'massively frustrating'.
As reported by the Daily Mail, Real, now under the management of Rafael Benitez following Ancelotti's dismissal last month, did not intend to take up a £7.5m ($11.8m) option to sign the 27-year-old on a permanent basis and The Mirror has since cited speculation from Spain that claims club president Florentino Perez is now eager to pursue a deal for Manchester City's Sergio Aguero.
With a return to the Spanish capital seemingly unlikely and Manchester United having already moved to strengthen their attacking options with the £25m ($39m) arrival of Memphis Depay from Eredivisie champions PSV Eindhoven, Hernandez would appear to find himself in a rather difficult situation ahead of the 2015/16 campaign.
Fresh reports from AS claim that Liverpool, Juventus and Inter Milan are all interested in the player, although current teammate and friend Mata clearly wants him to stay put.
"Chicharito still belongs to Manchester United and selfishly I'd like him to be with us," he told reporters as relayed by Goal.
"He has scored goals in every team he has played in and is a very smart striker. Chicharito is a great friend. When I arrived to Manchester he behaved great with me. He is a great person and a great professional. I've been lucky enough to share a dressing room with Chicharito, whom I admire."
The prospect of Hernandez moving to Liverpool appear extremely slim, although Petr Cech's imminent switch from Chelsea to Arsenal provides a timely reminder that occasionally successful talks can be conducted between rivals if the transfer is in the best interests of all parties.
Brendan Rodgers has been extremely eager to conduct his transfer business early this summer, with Brazilian playmaker Roberto Firmino recently confirmed as his fifth summer signing following the previous arrivals of Danny Ings, James Milner, Adam Bogdan and Joe Gomez.
Juventus, meanwhile, have already signed Mario Mandzukic from Atletico Madrid but it was announced overnight that Carlos Tevez will leave Turin during the upcoming transfer window after agreeing terms to return to his native Argentina with Boca Juniors.