Manchester United face a fight to land Nemanja Matic from Chelsea, but here’s why signing the Serb would make sense for Jose Mourinho.
Manchester United’s pursuit of Nemanja Matic dropped out of the headlines as they dramatically beat Chelsea to the signing of Romelu Lukaku from Everton, but as Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville has pointed out, their need for reinforcements in central midfield remains.
„United need another holding midfield player,“ he said. „Michael Carrick has got one more year but he can’t play every single week so they do need to have that player who can come in and do the same job – and Matic would be able to do that.“ Convincing Chelsea to sell might not be easy having beaten them to the signing of Lukaku, but the Serb would „fit the bill“, Neville added.
When the news of United’s interest in Matic first broke last month, however, it received a lukewarm response from some supporters. The Chelsea man lacks the wow factor of a Premier League newcomer, and the mooted £40m price-tag was considered high for a player approaching his 29th birthday.
It seemed especially curious given how Matic and Mourinho’s last spell together ended. Matic was one of Chelsea’s worst performers when their title defence unravelled at the start of the 2015/16 season. He suffered the ignominy of being substituted after coming off the bench during a 3-1 defeat to Southampton, and there was a costly red card against West Ham a few weeks later.
Mourinho, though, will also remember the role he played in making Chelsea title holders in the first place. Matic shone after his £21m return from Benfica in 2014, starting all but three of the Blues’ Premier League games and providing the sturdy foundations for their Premier League success. At the end of it, he was named in the PFA Team of the Year.
Matic’s place in Chelsea’s team appeared to be at risk when Antonio Conte brought N’Golo Kante to Stamford Bridge 12 months later, but instead of slipping down the pecking order, he started 30 Premier League games. He did not attract as many plaudits as some of his team-mates, but he was undoubtedly a key figure. Keeping Cesc Fabregas out of the team was an achievement in itself.
Matic’s quiet return to form has evidently not gone unnoticed by his old manager. And while some United fans might favour an exciting, young alternative such as Monaco’s Fabinho or Tottenham’s Eric Dier, it is perhaps significant that Mourinho frequently bemoaned the lack of winners in his squad last season.
„Playing to win, responsibility to win, coping with the pressure to win,“ he said in February, „this is something that has to belong in your natural habitat and for some guys it doesn’t.“ Since then, the issue has been exacerbated by the departure of Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
In a rejuvenated Matic, he would be acquiring a player with the mentality and experience he craves. The 28-year-old is not the most vocal presence on the pitch but he is a commanding character who exudes authority. It was Matic, remember, who gave Chelsea’s rousing team talk before their Capital One Cup final triumph over Tottenham in March 2015.
Mourinho would relish that kind of presence in the Manchester United dressing room, and Matic would also give him options on the pitch. Ander Herrera performed well at the base of United’s midfield when called upon last season, but he is not a natural holding player. Matic is, and he offers more quality than Marouane Fellaini and more athleticism than Carrick.
He would certainly help Mourinho bring the best out of Paul Pogba. Matic could be deployed alongside Herrera in a 4-2-3-1 formation, allowing the Frenchman to move into a more advanced role, but he could also sit in the middle of a 4-3-3, protecting the back four and leaving Pogba to take up the left-sided role in which he excelled for Juventus.
Matic might not offer quite the same level of distribution as Carrick, but he is more than comfortable in possession and Mourinho has praised his passing ability in the past. „It is difficult for him to lose the ball,“ he said in March 2015. „But at the same time, he is not the kind of guy to play square passes. He can keep possession, but he can see the movement forward, passing into space.“
That was more apparent than ever last season. Matic is better known for playing the pass before the pass, but his total of seven Premier League assists in 2016/17 was the third-highest at Chelsea and higher than any player at Manchester United. It’s an encouraging sign of improvement.
Matic is no rising star and convincing Chelsea to sell will not be easy, but on closer inspection, it’s clear why Mourinho is interested in a reunion. As Manchester United prepare to battle for the big prizes in the season ahead, the two-time title-winning midfielder could be exactly what they need.Soccer Accumulator Bonus
Our fantastic Euro Soccer accumulator offer gives you the chance to earn a bonus of up to 100% on accumulators on the top domestic leagues in Europe along with the group and knockout stages of the Champions League.
This offer applies to returns on pre-match accumulators of 3 or more selections on Full Time Result or Result/Both Teams To Score markets for the English Premier League, Italian Serie A, Spanish Primera Liga, German Bundesliga 1 or UEFA Champions League.
The maximum bonus that you can receive is €100,000 or currency equivalent. The bonus will not apply where a stake has been fully Cashed Out. Where a stake has been partially Cashed Out, the bonus will be calculated based .on the remaining active stake. If a qualifying bet is edited .using our Edit Bet feature. The bonus will be calculated based on the new stake. Where a bet has been edited to include or amend a selection for an event that is In-Play, the bonus will no longer apply. Double Chance bets or combination bets with bonuses. Such as Lucky 15’s or Lucky .31’s do not apply for this offer.
If your bet is successful, we will add the following bonuses to your returns:
Bet Type Bonus
14-folds and upwards 100% bonus
Terms and Conditions
Applies to straight pre-match accumulator bets on the Full Time Result or Result/Both Teams To Score markets for UEFA Champions League, English Premier League, Italian Serie A, Spanish Primera Liga, German Bundesliga .1 or Australian A-League matches. Maximum bonus €100,000 or currency equivalent. Soccer Accumulator Bonus does not apply to Double Chance bets or combination. bets with bonuses such as Lucky 15’s, Lucky 31’s etc.
If any selections are postponed/void then the bonus will still apply, but the percentage bonus added will reflect the actual number of winning selections. For example, an 8-fold accumulator with 7. winners and 1 postponed match will receive a 30% .bonus to returns.
The bonus part of your returns will be added to your account within 24 hours of your final selection having played.
This bonus will not apply where a stake has been fully Cashed Out. Where a stake has been partially Cashed Out, the bonus will be calculated based on the remaining active stake.
If a qualifying bet is edited using our Edit Bet feature, the bonus will be calculated based on the new stake. Where a bet has been edited to include or amend a selection for an event that is In-Play, the bonus will no longer apply.
Where any term of the offer or promotion is breached or there is any evidence of a series of bets placed by a customer or group of customers, which due to a deposit bonus, enhanced payments, free bets, risk free bets or any other promotional offer results in guaranteed customer profits irrespective of the outcome, whether individually or as part of a group, bet365 reserves the right to reclaim the bonus element of such offers and in their absolute discretion either settle bets at the correct odds, void the free and risk free. bets or void any bet funded by the deposit bonus.
In addition bet365 .reserve the right to levy an administration charge on the customer up to the value of the deposit bonus, free bet, risk free bet or additional payment to cover administrative costs. We further reserve the right to ask any customer to provide sufficient documentation for us to be satisfied in our absolute discretion as to the customer’s identity prior to us crediting any bonus, free bet, risk free bet or offer to their account.
All bet365 offers are intended for recreational players and bet365 may in its sole discretion limit the eligibility of customers to participate in all or part of any promotion.