The Sun says Benitez s ready to sign Valencia left winger Mata - which could spell curtains for Ryan Babel.
Mata, 21, has been devastating in La Liga this season and Valencia are starved of cash so look ready to take £16.5million next summer.
Benitez is confident of landing the deal because, though Mata's contract is until 2012, he is on only £10,000 a week and has already turned down an improved offer.
Mata's father Juan Snr, also his agent, said: "We want Valencia to recognise the kid's true quality, and it's not only a matter of money."
Juan Jnr added: "This matter is all down to the club and my agent. Benitez is a big coach but I just want to concentrate on my game without any distractions."