Finally Jose Mourinho has got his man and brought one of his trusted players to Manchester United from Chelsea in Nemanja Matić. The popular Serbian international midfielder was highly touted to be moving away from Stamford Bridge since the end of the previous Premier League campaign. Juventus were also believed to be interested in the signing of Matić however were thrown off by the 40 million price tag on his head. There is no doubt that the defensive midfielder is an upgrade on what currently Manchester United in this area of the pitch, the big question marks will be on the cost of the player and why Manchester United were happy to take a player that Antonio Conte did not feel was at a good enough level to play for the Premier League Champions.
The signing of Matić will certainly please manager Jose Mourinho who had only last week stated he would be happy with one more signing if he cannot get two in, stating that a holding midfielder was his priority. The introduction of the former Blues midfielder has been met with open arms by Manchester United fans, so they obviously feel he is a good acquisition to the club as well. Tactically this signing could be a blessing for the team, allowing Mourinho to field a 4-3-3 formation and releasing the talents of Paul Pogba from a central position, allowing Matić and potentially Ander Herrera to operate from a deeper position. Matić will certainly provide more protection to the central defenders something that Manchester United lacked last season with no real holding midfielder screening the defence. When watching the Serbian midfielder it is evident to see that he knows his limits, he is not going to play defence splitting passes or a pin point diagonal pass from his central position, however his 7 assists last campaign was a very decent return for a player not known for such attributes. He will also bring further physical presence to the team, and when you consider the likes of Eric Bailly, Paul Pogba, Antonio Valencia, and Victor Lindelöf to name a few. So to add the presence of the 6’4 central midfielder amongst this team can only be of benefit to the team in different situations.
With the positives that Matić will bring to Manchester United, there still has to be the question of why is Chelsea more than willing to let him go? Naturally the singing of Tiémoué Bakayoko is considered an upgrade on partnering Kante in the middle of the park, perhaps providing more protection all over the pitch for Chelsea. It has to be pinpointed the inconsistency of Matić especially since returning to English football would have played a massive role. In Chelsea’s title winning season under the leadership of Mourinho the displays of Matić were simply top class, proving himself to among the best in the world in his position, however the following season in defending their title the Serbian midfielder was lacklustre in his approach and consequently Mourinho was sacked and Chelsea endured a horrendous campaign by their own high standards. The arrival of Conte during the summer of 2016 was another opportunity for Matić to establish himself in the heart of the Chelsea midfield, which he did and during the first half of last season he formed a formidable partnership with Kante in the heart of the midfield. The second part of the season was a different story however; Matić still played a massive part in the title winning season, but because of the dip in performances he was dropped to the bench for more games and was not anywhere near as influential as he previous was. The former Benfica man does have a lethargic approach when it comes to playing the game; his mannerism on the pitch is not one of authority or of control. Certain games would pass by and on occasion would think was Matić playing? For all the qualities he will bring to Manchester United teams playing against them will still fancy their chances of getting down the sides to attack against them as moving across the pitch is certainly not one of strongest parts of Matic’s game.
The signing of Matić is one that certainly Mourinho needed as the team needs a holding midfielder. Can Matić be the answer to this problem in the Manchester United team? Mourinho will have to keep the player at the top of his game to really prove doubters wrong. Time will tell but the 40 million spent on the Serbian would have be considered an overspending despite the current market players are going for especially in English football. There are certainly more marketable, younger players across Europe who could do the role that Mourinho is looking for in current Manchester United team.