Nemanja Matic is closing in on a big-money move to Manchester United as Jose Mourinho looks to fork out a massive £35 million to bring the former midfielder of his.
Back in January 2014, the United boss re-signed Matic for Chelsea for £22 million and the Serbian has led the club to two Premier League titles.
It seems as though Matic is set for leaving now that Chelsea are close to tying up a deal for Monaco’s Tiemoue Bakayoko, and personal terms are understood to have been agreed between Matic and United, with a four-year deal worth £150,000-a-week.
But where will Matic fit in at United? How could he improve the team?
Given his price tag, Matic is almost certain to come straight into the United starting line-up, but a fee of £35 million is large amount to pay for a player who will soon be 29, not to mention one who Chelsea clearly think they can upgrade from by signing Bakayoko.
It is easy to undermine the 28-year-old midfielder, but on his best days there are few who can match him. Matic’s steely presence can bring out the best in other, more creative, players such as Paul Pogba and Ander Herrera.
For this, Mourinho is not looking for a player that he will need to work hard with to try to fit into his vision just because he will sell shirts, but rather one that works well with others to make the team more successful and do a specific job – a job Matic does perfectly.
Matic is a similar kind of player to Michael Carrick, granted he’s not nearly as good at long-range passing. But they are the type of players who can read the game well, break up play, start attacks, shows composure and defend the back four.
He also doesn’t get on the score sheet as much – also like Carrick – but his ability to defend the back four is something that Mourinho needs for United.
In having this, it would protect the back four and free up both Pogba and Herrera which would allow them to cause some damage with their more eye-catching talents further up the pitch knowing they are covered.
Last season, Pogba’s performances came under intense scrutiny after his £89 million world record move from Juventus and Mourinho knows that to bring out the best in him, he needs to be able to control the tempo of the game and be free to roam without fearing that no one is there to protect the defence.
Pogba scored only nine goals last season, but if you look at the amount of times he hit the woodwork, he could have doubled that number if he wasn’t distracted by protecting the defence. If he could manage to roam and get in and around the box next season, that number could be brought up to 15-20 goals.
Mario Melchiot, former Chelsea defender, underlined Matic’s importance by saying:
“He was very crucial in some games Chelsea played last season and I think he did extremely well.
“There was a good balance in the midfield, sometimes with him or Fabregas next to Kante.
“If he [Conte] makes the choice to let him go to United, he better have good backing because, if not, it might come back and bite him.”
Matic has more than proved his value by winning two of the last three Premier League titles – if he can make it a third, as well as defending the back four, bringing out the best in Pogba and Herrera, as well as read the game well, then United fans will be sure to welcome him with open arms.
(Featured Image credit: Sportbible)