Manchester United looks to solidify midfield with Matic signing

Chelsea's Nemanja Matic, right, vies for the ball with Middlesbrough's Alvaro Nrgredo during the English Premier League soccer match between Chelsea and Middlesbrough at Stamford Bridge stadium in London, Monday, May 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
Alastair Grant/AP photo

Manchester United has already shelled out a big sum of money during the transfer window this summer, and on Monday they made another move as the Red Devils signed Nemanja Matic from champions Chelsea for a reported fee of £40 million.

The 29-year-old Serbian international is rejoined with manager Jose Mourinho, whom he played for at Chelsea. Matic had two spells at Chelsea. He first joined the team in 2009 from Kosice, then left in January 2011 to join Benfica. But after a couple of successful seasons in Portugal, Chelsea bought him back in January 2014 when Mourinho managed the club.

The defensive midfielder is well known for his fighting spirit on the pitch, and he could be the key for United as it tries try to find a way for star Paul Pogba to fulfill the most of his potential. Matic will be shielding the defense, while also giving Pogba the license to roam forward. If Mourinho also insists on playing Marouane Fellaini, then Matic will make up for the big-haired Belgian’s lack of skill.

It was clear early in the summer that United was looking for a defensive midfielder, and the club was linked with both Fabinho (Monaco) and Radja Nainggolan (Roma), but Matic’s name came up early as the front-runner. He’s a Mourinho favorite, and Matic said it was an easy choice to move to Old Trafford.

“Manchester is one of the biggest clubs in the world,” Matic told MUTV.

“Also, my wish was to train with Jose and, of course, when you have a coach like him and a club like Manchester, you don’t need to think a lot so my decision was very easy.”

Mourinho played a big role in Matic’s decision, according to the player, as he enjoys working with the Portuguese manager.

“He is a great coach and, when I worked with him before, he always took the best from me. I improve if I work with him, so I am very happy to be again with him, especially in this great club. When the coach wants you to come to the club, it gives you more motivation, more possibility and I will give my best to show that I deserve to be in this club and part of this group.”

Matic plays with a fire, and his combative playing style was missing from the side last season. Ander Herrera did a decent job when playing as the defensive midfielder, but the Spaniard is at his best when he’s one step farther up on the field as a central midfielder.

The midfield at United is centered around Pogba, which is fully understandable as the French star has shown at times that he is one of the better at his position in the world. The problem has been that Pogba hasn’t had the same type of supporting cast as he did at Juventus, as he has been stuck next to Fellaini all too often, but signing Matic is a big step in the right direction.

With the £40 million spent on Matic, United has put up around £150 million this summer on three players in Romelu Lukaku, Victor Lindelof and Matic. With Matic now in the fold, a winger seems to be next on Mourinho’s wish list, according to several reports in British media. United has been linked with RB Leipzig’s Emil Forsberg, but the Bundesliga club seems to be unwilling to part with its star Swede as it prepares for the Champions League.

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