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