Manchester United are reportedly very close to landing Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic before they head to their pre-season as Jose Mourinho grows desperate to beef up his midfield before the start of the next season. While United have been linked with the likes of Tiemoue Bakayoko and Fabinho earlier, no deal has yet been finalised and Matic could be a panic buy.
United are set to pay a whopping £40 million for the Serbian international, who turns 29-year-old this August. Given his age and the form he has been of late, this deal would seem frivolous to many. Matic has been one of the most inconsistent performers for Chelsea last season and has often seen Cesc Fabregas subbing him off in the second half of games.
Jose Mourinho, however, should get the necessary traits in Matic if he is unable to land Fabinho this summer. Although Matic lacks the versatility in the defensive third compared to the Brazilian, he sure is a strong presence in the midfield who can intercept balls at a regular rate and feed it into the attack.
He has helped Chelsea win two Premier Leagues in three years and would be a valuable addition by all means, if not a long-term prospect. United have lacked the cushion behind their star Paul Pogba last season, with the towering Frenchman often falling out helpless in the midfield. In Ander Herrera, United do have a good option, but his defensive contribution is often questioned.
At Chelsea alongside N’Golo Kante, Matic started the season brilliantly before losing pace towards the end. He scored two goals and nine assists in all competitions, which includes an absolute stunner against Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup semi-final. He has provided the much needed aerial dominance in Chelsea’s midfield that helped the London side to win most of the air balls.
However, Chelsea’s strong pursuit of Monaco’s Bakayoko means they need to make space for him and the sale of Matic could be the only viable option. The deal is still far from sealed though as Fabinho’s latest admiration of Manchester United and Jose Mourinho could force the club to give it a second thought.
And if United could get Fabinho, who is 23, at around the same price as Matic, then the choice is more than obvious. Matic, however, looks like a sure departure from Stamford Bridge. The midfielder, whom Chelsea brought in from second-tier Serbian club FC VSS Kosice back in 2009 was sold to Portuguese side Benfica two years later in 2011.
He was impressive for them winning the championship and Chelsea was forced to buy him back three years later again. He went on to two championships in England too. He is a winner and would be a serious upgrade to any side’s midfield. But is he a better option than Fabinho?