Chelsea Re-Signing Nemanja Matic Underlines Folly of Relying on Big-Money Deals

Garry Hayes@@garryhayesFeatured ColumnistJanuary 13, 2014

ELCHE, SPAIN - JULY 31:  Rodrigo (L) of Benfica celebrates with his teammate Matic during a friendly match between Elche CF and Benfica at Estadio Martinez Valero on July 31, 2013 in Elche, Spain.   (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images)
Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

If the goalscoring form of Daniel Sturridge at Liverpool hasn't already proved it, Chelsea's apparently imminent signing of Nemanja Matic makes things abundantly clear.

The Blues are challenging for major honors again under Jose Mourinho, but their transfer policy leaves a lot to be admired.

Chelsea have long faced accusations of talent hoarding, snapping up rising stars from across the continent in an attempt to create the next superstar from within their ranks. Yet where has that policy got them?

Where Matic is concerned, potentially £20 million out of pocket.

Cast your mind back to January 2011 when the Serbian was allowed to leave West London for around £3 million, joining Benfica as part of the deal that saw David Luiz move the other way.

Then 22, he was seen as surplus, with other stars ahead of him in the Stamford Bridge pecking order. Now Chelsea are expected to re-sign Matic this week for an eye-watering £22 million, according to The Guardian.

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - JULY 23:  Nemanja Matic of Chelsea pushs off Eyong Enoh of Ajax during a Pre-seson Friendly match between Chelsea and Ajax at Amsterdam Arena on July 23, 2010 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  (Photo by Phil Cole/Getty Images)
Phil Cole/Getty Images

It's a dramatic turnaround in the player's fortunes, but regardless of how much his worth may now be, it must be said that Chelsea are still losing out—especially after they signed Matic for a mere £1.5 million from Kosice in 2009.

From once being a potential bargain, he is now an expensive mistake.

It was, of course, impossible to predict the midfielder would develop to his current standing, although just three substitute appearances during Matic's entire Chelsea career was hardly enough for him to prove otherwise.

Instead, he had to move to Portugal to outline what he was truly capable of, which he has.

In the three years Matic has spent at the Estadio da Luz, he has become integral to Benfica's success and his departure will leave a significant void in the heart of their midfield.

Chelsea's outlay on Nemanja Matic
2009Kosice£1.5 million
2011Chelsea£3 million (R)
2014Benfica£22 million
NS: £20.5 million
NS: Net spend
R: Received and

It will leave a significant void in Roman Abramovich's bank balance, too.

Yet it needn't have been like that—for the player or the club.

With so many superstars in the Stamford Bridge dressing room these days, the path from young star to first-team regular is more difficult than ever to negotiate.

The return of Matic shows Chelsea need to put a little more faith in the players they have coming through—academy talents or those, who like Matic, have been snapped up a little later in their careers.

The Serbian has flourished when given the chance at Benfica, as has ex-teammate Sturridge at Liverpool.

Indeed, were Chelsea's former frontman still plying his trade in West London, Mourinho's team would be 12 goals better off this term—a factor that may even see them topping the Premier League table instead of London rivals Arsenal.

Much like his Matic, though, Sturridge was forced away from Stamford Bridge in the pursuit of regular opportunities and is now fulfilling his potential like many had hoped he would for the Blues.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 23:  Daniel Sturridge of Liverpool celebrates scoring his team's third goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Liverpool at Goodison Park on November 23, 2013 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Clive
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Had Chelsea given Sturridge a fair crack at the whip, it would render void their search for a striker to support the likes of Fernando Torres. Instead, come the end of 2013-14, Chelsea are expected to splash the cash on another big name signing to bring them goals aplenty.

But why pay such extortionate fees for glory? By the success of Matic and Sturridge alone, Chelsea's scouts have shown they're capable of spotting talent. It just needs to be given a chance.

With a reliance on marquee signings to serve the demands of fans—and perhaps the ego of their owner—Chelsea's existing policy will continue to shut the door on the players they have coming through.

And while they're feeling the pinch financially with Matic, one suspects it will come back to haunt them in many other ways in the future.

Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here @garryhayes


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