Nemanja Matic

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Pogba on Manchester United return: “I have come back as a man”

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Perhaps no one feels as good about Manchester United’s signing of Nemanja Matic as his midfield mate Paul Pogba, with both having starring roles — who didn’t, really? — as United battered West Ham 4-0 on Sunday.

“Against West Ham, Matic was starting behind and I could worry more about attacking,” Pogba told The Telegraph. “I feel good playing that way,”

The French midfielder’s quotes are part of an interview with The Telegraph.

[MORE: Hoffenheim 1-2 Liverpool | Klopp reacts to W 

Pogba, of course, came back to Manchester United on a world record transfer fee in the Summer of 2016, and with that came a lot of pressure.

The player, 24, says he’s noticed that the media has moved on from the price tag talk and is talking more about the play on the field. Pogba says he came back from Juventus a much different person.

“When I left I always felt like I had missed something at United because I wasn’t a first XI player. Now I’m happy to be back. I grew up a lot in Italy and I have come back as a man. I am always confident and now it is my second season. I know more about the Premier League and I adapt more with the team.”

Pogba made just seven appearances for United by the time he left on a free transfer in 2012, his three Premier League matches amounting to a total of 68 minutes.

Now back and a focal point, Pogba was sure to point out that his goal against West Ham was only important in that it helps put the club on a path toward silverware. Read all his comments here.

VIDEO: Romelu Lukaku feasts after Rashford, Matic make difference

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A goal was coming to Old Trafford in the first half of Manchester United’s home opener versus West Ham United, and Romelu Lukaku provided it.

[ MORE: Watch the second half, or start from 0:00 here ]

Chances were not at a premium as Jose Mourinho’s men poured forward at the Irons.

The build-up was impressive, as Nemanja Matic broke up a spell of West Ham possession to spring Marcus Rashford toward the box.

Then came the big Belgian and his powerful left foot.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Man United sign Nemanja Matic from Chelsea

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Serbian destroyer Nemanja Matic is ready to be Jose Mourinho’s hatchet man once again.

[ MORE: Christian Pulisic to Liverpool? ] 

For the second time in his career Matic has signed for Mourinho, putting pen to paper on a three-year deal with the Red Devils reportedly paying over $52.3 million to Chelsea.

Matic, 28, is of course much more than a thug in the engine room as the lanky Serbian international has won two Premier League titles in the past three seasons with Chelsea.

His elegance on the ball, timing in tackles, supreme positional sense and aerial ability has seen him develop into one of the finest holding midfielders in Europe and in Chelsea’s most recent title winning seasons he was pivotal in protecting the back four but also chipping in with telling moments in attack.

Mourinho is certainly delighted to have Matic at Old Trafford.

“Nemanja is a Manchester United player and a Jose Mourinho player. He represents everything we want in a footballer; loyalty, consistency, ambition, team player,” Mourinho said. “I would like to thank him for his desire to join us because without that, it would be impossible to have him here. I am sure our players and supporters will love him. A big welcome to our new number 31.”

So, there you have it. Once Mourinho finds players he trusts he often moves them from club to club. Paulo Ferreira, Ricardo Carvalho, Samuel Eto'o and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are just a few of the examples of Mourinho having unbridled faith in familiar faces.

That said, Matic has not had a preseason with Chelsea leaving him off their tour of the Far East with this deal in the works and his insistence to leave Chelsea for Man United was clear all summer, especially with holding midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko arriving from AS Monaco. It may take him a little way to get back up to speed and there is a lingering sense that Chelsea delayed this transfer after United won the race for Romelu Lukaku earlier this summer. Surely they wouldn’t be so petty with their former manager involved…

Matic said to work with Mourinho again “was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down” as well as thanking Chelsea for this time at the club.

With N'Golo Kante the main man in Chelsea’s engine room last season, Matic’s fine form was often overlooked. He kept Cesc Fabregas out of the starting lineup for most of the campaign and he will now line up alongside Ander Herrera to create a formidable, snappy-tackling shield for United’s defense.

Quite why Chelsea have allowed Matic to leave to a direct PL rival is beyond most people, but United have now strengthened in all the areas they needed to this summer and have a new, powerful spine in Victor Lindelof, Matic and Lukaku. In central midfield Matic and Herrera will be first choice with Paul Pogba ahead of them, while Michael Carrick and Maraoune Fellaini will also challenge for the two deeper central spots.

Mourinho wanted a new striker, center back, central midfielder and a winger in the summer window and he’s spent $190 million to get three out of the four.

This is now very much a Mourinho team and Matic is very much a quintessential Mourinho player.


Transfer rumor roundup: Matic close to United deal, West Brom want defender

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Chelsea appears set to lose one of its key pieces in the midfield from a season ago, while West Bromwich Albion is keen on a former Premier League defender to bolster its back line in 2017/18.

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The Blues will likely lose holding midfielder Nemanja Matic over the coming days as Manchester United’s continued interest in the Serbian has ramped up.

A picture has surfaced online of Matic wearing a United top, although there is no confirmation as to whether or not the photo has been altered.

The Red Devils have already had a successful summer in the transfer market, securing big deals with Romelu Lukaku and Victor Lindelof as manager Jose Mourinho enters his second season at Old Trafford.

However, the Sun is reporting that a deal with Chelsea is being held up by a discrepancy over bonus payments that would be paid to the Blues.

Sky Sports is reporting that West Brom is seeking a move for Barcelona defender Thomas Vermaelen, who previously spent time in the PL with Arsenal.

The Belgium veteran has struggled to crack the Barca XI in his time at the Camp Nou, and spent last season on loan at Roma.

[ MORE: Man United planning massive bid for Bale next summer ]

The report also states that Crystal Palace has expressed interest in the 31-year-old.

Report: Diego Costa not with Chelsea for preseason tour

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According to a report by ESPN, Chelsea striker Diego Costa will not be joining the Blues as they travel to China and Singapore for a preseason tour.

Costa’s relationship with the club has been strained ever since it was revealed by the player that manager Antonio Conte had texted him to inform him they will go in another direction next season. That has not yet materialized, as Chelsea was beaten to top target Romelu Lukaku by Manchester United, but rumors still continue to fly about who will be brought in to lead the strike force.

[ MORE: Saturday transfer rumor roundup ]

The ESPN report states that Costa is still currently in his native Brazil, hoping to secure a move to Atletico Madrid. Things have not progressed on that front as he would have desired, with the club’s transfer ban not only leaving him without a place to play until January, but also with competition in Antoine Greizmann. It was initially thought that Griezmann would leave for Manchester United, but he has signed a new Atletico Madrid contract in light of the transfer ban.

It’s still feasible that Chelsea could reconcile with Costa, especially considering the hefty price tags of all remaining top-line strikers on the market. Andrea Belotti, Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang, and Alvaro Morata are all thought to command huge sums of money.

Nemanja Matic is also reportedly absent from the trip, with rumors of a move to Manchester United flying for weeks, while Juventus is also in the mix. In addition, Kurt Zouma will not travel as he is finalizing a loan move to Stoke City.