Chelsea's willingness to allow Juan Mata to join Manchester United for £37 million is part of a long-term strategy to try to land Everton's young star Ross Barkley.

Even though a deal for Mata should be completed quickly, there is little chance of Chelsea immediately using the money to sign Barkley, who is out injured with a broken toe.

One short-term option being considered by Chelsea is to hijack Liverpool’s move for Mohamed Salah, the Basle winger. Failing that, they could relaunch a move for Inter Milan’s Fredy Guarin, whose move to Juventus is yet to go through and who is available for £8 million.

But Chelsea’s intention is to launch a big bid for midfielder Barkley in the summer and allowing Mata to go to United could aid that process.

Chelsea have the maximum number of non-homegrown over-21 players registered, 17, of which Mata is one. That is an issue the club are aware will need to be addressed, particularly with Frank Lampard, John Terry and Ashley Cole heading towards the end of their careers.