The signing of Nemanja Matic on Monday may not have Manchester United fans bouncing off the walls in excitement, but it could prove to be one of the summer’s most important transfers.
The £40 million United forked out may seem like a lot of money for a 28-year old holding midfielder, but Matic comes with the know how gained in two Premier League winning campaigns, plus he is familiar with Jose Mourinho, qualities that will help him settle quickly and serve United well this season given that they will be expected to challenge for the title.
Chelsea fans are adamant they will not miss the Serbian given that they have N’Golo Kante, but they tend to overlook Matic’s importance last season. He made 30 starts for Antonio Conte in the EPL last term, while managing to keep Cesc Fabregas out of the team for most of the season – which in itself is no mean feat.
His stats from the 2016/17 season are impressive to say the least:
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With Michael Carrick quickly approaching the end of his Old Trafford career, Matic is a ready made replacement. The Serb may not possess the same range of passing as Carrick, but he rarely gives the ball away and has an eye for a pass and a wicked shot that is often under appreciated.
The other quality that Matic brings to the table is a physical presence, he will offer added protection to a United defence that was second only to Spurs in least goals conceded last term. He will also help free Paul Pogba from the defensive duties that burdened him last season, which will mean United may finally begin to see the best of the world’s most expensive midfielder.
The reliable presence of Matic will also enable the rest of the United midfield to be more forward thinking, creating chances for the likes of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Romelu Lukaku, converting the draws that blighted last season into wins.
While Mourinho may not be signing an exciting, up-and-coming player in the mould of Tottenham’s Eric Dier or Monaco’s Fabinho, Matic is a known quantity to Mourinho and does exactly what it says on the tin, which could prove to be the difference for United this season.