Chelsea Transfer News: Nemanja Matic Provides Boost to Blues' Title Hopes

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistJanuary 16, 2014

NAPLES, ITALY - AUGUST 09:  Nemanja Matic of Benfca in action during the pre-season friendly match between SSC Napoli and SL Benfica at Stadio San Paolo on August 9, 2013 in Naples, Italy.  (Photo by Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images)
Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

Chelsea were arguably the deepest team in the Premier League coming into the January transfer window, which makes their signing of talented midfielder Nemanja Matic from Benfica all the more frightening for Premier League teams.

From the Press Association (via The Guardian):

Chelsea have bolstered their Premier League title challenge by completing the eye-catching signing of Nemanja Matic from Benfica, with the Serbia midfielder's €25m (£20.75m) arrival the most expensive outlay by a British club in the transfer window thus far.

Matic has signed a contract until 2019 and rejoins the London club, who sit third in the table and just two points from the leaders Arsenal, having spent three years establishing his reputation in Portugal. The 25-year-old passed a medical at Cobham on Wednesday and, once international clearance has come through, will be in line to make his second debut for Chelsea in Sunday's eagerly anticipated meeting with Manchester United.

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

He's turned himself into one of the better midfielders in European football since leaving Chelsea in 2011 in the deal that brought David Luiz to the Blues. Matic is a well-rounded engine who is excellent at maintaining possession and pushing the play forward, but will also go all out to win the ball back when his team loses it.

He's an aggressive, competitive player, but he also plays smart. If he has the same impact at Chelsea that he did for Benfica, he'll really solidify the central midfield and make Chelsea even more difficult to deal with as the Blues make their title push.

Jonathan Wilson of The Guardian has more on why Matic is a great fit for Jose Mourinho's system:

It is easy to see why Matic appeals to Mourinho. At a touch over 6'4", he is physically robust, and offers both a goal threat from set pieces and extra security in defending them—an area in which Chelsea were surprisingly deficient towards the end of last year. He is also mentally resilient. This, after all, is a player who was rejected repeatedly before finally finding regular first-team football at Benfica.

In a central pair, Matic could join forces with John Obi Mikel as the player more likely to push forward toward the box, as Wilson notes. Or, he could pair with Frank Lampard and act as the holding player. The move also allows Mourinho the option to occasionally utilize Ramires out wide if he wants to solidify the team defensively on the wing later in the game.

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 15: Oscar of Chelsea and Nemanja Matic of Benfica compete for the ball during the UEFA Europa League Final between SL Benfica and Chelsea FC at Amsterdam Arena on May 15, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  (Photo by Jamie McDona
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

And, if Mourinho turns to a 4-3-3 rather than the 4-2-3-1 the team generally runs, Matic gives them more quality choices for the midfield trio on the pitch.

For a team that will place top priority on winning the league but will also desire another European title in the Champions League, having those options and that depth is crucial. Matic will allow Mourinho to really mix and match his players based on the matchup. 

He should provide added cover for the defense, integrate seamlessly with Chelsea's impressing cadre of attackers and give the Blues another talented yet physically imposing player on the pitch.

In other words, be afraid, the rest of the Premier League. Be very afraid.

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