Nemanja Matic to Chelsea: Blues Sign Benfica Star

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJanuary 15, 2014


Perhaps the second time will be the charm for Nemanja Matic and Chelsea.

As if the Blues weren't already deep enough coming into January, they've now gone out and signed Benfica's Matic to bolster their lineup as they make a push for a Premier League and Champions League title.   

Chelsea announced the news via Twitter on Wednesday, Jan. 15:

Matic of course spent two years with Chelsea but only played in two Premier League games for the club before leaving in 2011, as a part of the deal that brought David Luiz to the Blues.  

The 25-year-old will instantly enter the mix for Chelsea in the central midfield, joining players such as Ramires, John Obi Mikel and Frank Lampard.

While Benfica made an effort to keep him, Matic decided he was ready to make the move to Chelsea and announced his intentions to the Portuguese media on Jan. 14. He shared these comments, via Dominic Fifield of The Guardian:

I have played my last game here. I want to thank all the people at the club and all the supporters. Benfica will forever be in my heart. I played here for two and a half years. I gave my best in every training session, every match, and now is the right time to leave. I want to improve, I want to go to a better league and I want to go to Chelsea, the club which I also love.

The Benfica president did everything he could to get me to stay here but I have wanted to leave and insisted on leaving. I respect the effort made to keep me at the club, everyone at Benfica has been very good to me and made me very happy, but I reiterate that I insisted on going as the time is right. 

Matic has made 14 league appearances for Benfica this season, scoring two goals. He also featured in six Champions League games for the club, scoring a goal and earning a 6.82 average match rating in the competition. 

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 14:  Nemanja Matic of Benfica looks on during an SL Benfica training session ahead of the UEFA Europa League Final match against Chelsea at the Amsterdam Arena on May 14, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  (Photo by Michael Stee
Michael Steele/Getty Images

Since leaving Chelsea, he's turned himself into one of the most well-rounded midfielders in European football. He's brilliantly adept at maintaining possession and orchestrating the play in the midfield, but he's also got quite the engine and is tenacious in winning the ball back for his team.

Andy Brassell of the Mirror summed up Matic's style when describing his final performance for the club against Porto on Jan. 12:

He battled for every ball, stretched every sinew and—showing exactly why he has become such a hot property on the market—demonstrated his skill in bringing the ball into the opposition half as Benfica went for the jugular. One crunching second-half foul which welcomed Ricardo Quaresma back to the Portuguese Liga brought a yellow card, and exemplified his commitment.

In a title race that has become so tight, adding a reliable, all-around midfielder like Matic could be a game-changer for the Blues. Well, if he can translate his dominance in Portugal to the Premier League pitches, that is.

The first time was at Chelsea was hardly a success for Matic. He and the Blues will be hoping that the second go-around works out a bit better. 


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