Friday, September 29, 2023

Manchester United Extend This Midfielder’s Contract By Another Year: Wise Decision By The Red Devils?

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Abhinab Ghosh
A 26-year-old sports writer and an aspiring football coach who has road-tripped across the Scottish Highlands, but has never been to Wales. Sucker for cliff-hangers and catchy riffs. Known to be a grunger and not to be a stranger.

According to a recent report by Sky Sports, Manchester United have activated the one-year option to extend Nemanja Matic’s stay at Old Trafford. The same source has also revealed that the Red Devils are currently in talks with the player over a new deal. Matic was about to enter the final four months of his contract, so Ole Gunnar Solskjaer decided to sign him up for at least another season following his recent resurgence in the Premier League (via Sky Sports).

Matic’s Excellent Run Of Form For Man United In Recent Weeks

The 31-year-old endured a frustrating start to this campaign as he missed several matches due to injury. However, he has slowly made his way back to full fitness and has flourished as a member of Solskjaer’s first-team over the past few months. He has been instrumental behind Man United’s 11-match unbeaten run across all competitions before their season came to an unexpected halt due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Matic has featured in 22 matches for the Mancunian outfit this term, scoring one goal and providing two assists on all fronts. He has been far more effective on the defensive end of the field after averaging 2.0 tackles, 1.2 interceptions and 1.3 clearances per 90 minutes in the English top-flight this season (stats via whoscored). The numbers prove that the Serbian still has a lot to offer despite edging towards the twilight years of his playing career.

The Sabac-born midfield ace has also earned 48 senior caps for the Serbian national team, netting two goals in the process.

Nemanja Matic of Manchester United and Rangelo Janga of Asanta compete for the ball during the UEFA Europa League group L match between Manchester United and FK Astana at Old Trafford on September 19, 2019, in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

What Does The Serbia International Offer On The Pitch?

Matic is a deep-lying, defensive midfielder who excels at providing adequate protection for the backline. He loves to go in for a few tackles to win back possession for his side. The Serbian midfielder can also sense the danger quickly and make some vital last-gasp clearances at the back. However, he can be guilty of slowing down the tempo of the game which has harmed his team’s chances in the offensive end of the field. Furthermore, the veteran player has lost a yard of pace from his game, so he is slow to react when one of his teammates is left exposed in a 1v1 situation.

Did Ole Make A Wise Decision By Extending Matic’s Deal?

Matic’s recent resurgence is commendable and deserves the appreciation of the Man United supporters. However, he is a shell of his former self these days, so it makes no sense for the Red Devils to extend his stay at the Theatre of Dreams. Solskjaer has a big rebuilding job in his hands this summer as he will be expected to challenge for silverware next season. Hence, there is no use in trying to fill the gaps with players who are past their prime.

It doesn’t feel like Man United have made a wise decision by offering Matic a one-year extension. They should have released the player as a free agent this summer which would have opened up space for Solskjaer to recruit a more promising defensive midfielder ahead of the new season. The Norwegian head coach’s decision to keep Matic could prove detrimental to his long-term ambitions at Old Trafford.

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