Manchester United Transfer News: Latest on Nemanja Matic, Chelsea Exit Rumours

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistJune 8, 2016

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 13 :  Nemanja Matic of Chelsea during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge on February 13, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images)
Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic has reportedly informed incoming head coach Antonio Conte of his willingness to join his former manager, Jose Mourinho, at Manchester United. 

That’s according to Anthony Chapman of the Sun, who reported that a “strong relationship” between Mourinho and the player is his motivator for wanting a move.

“The Special One is now keen on a reunion at Old Trafford as he seeks a huge summer overhaul, and the feeling is mutual,” the piece continued. “… Conte has held talks with a number of disillusioned stars including Eden Hazard and Diego Costa, and Matic has already told the Italian he wants out.”

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JUNE 05:  Jose Mourinho the manager of Manchester United looks on during the Soccer Aid 2016 match in aid of UNICEF at Old Trafford on June 5, 2016 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

After being moved on to Benfica from the Blues in 2011, Mourinho brought the Serbia international back to the club in January 2014. Since then, Matic has been a huge success overall and was one of the key components in the club winning the title in 2015-16.

These numbers from WhoScored.com show how influential he can be in central areas:

Despite these stats, there’s no denying last season was a tough one for the player, as his previously all-encompassing influence on Premier League games diminished.

Matic was ponderous off the ball and erratic in possession as the Blues struggled. The nadir of the campaign for the 27-year-old came when Mourinho introduced him into a game off the bench against Southampton before withdrawing him just 27 minutes later. Matic was evidently embarrassed.

Matic was subbed on then off again by Mourinho earlier in the campaign.
Matic was subbed on then off again by Mourinho earlier in the campaign.Julian Finney/Getty Images

Chapman reported that incident didn’t scupper their positive relationship, having stated that regardless of the double substitution “Mourinho is actually a big fan of the defensive midfielder.”

As football journalist Dan Levene noted before the end of the last campaign, there were signs from the player that he wasn’t totally at ease with life at Stamford Bridge:

United could do with this kind of player in the middle of the park. They have deep midfielders in the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Morgan Schneiderlin and Michael Carrick, although none have an edge to match Matic. 

The Serb is a brute of a footballer at his best. The Blues man spots danger, relishes physical battles and can either pick a pass or carry the ball forward into advanced positions. Those dynamic defensive qualities were rarely on show at Old Trafford, and it’s something football journalist Liam Canning feels the team needs more of:

The most important party in any potential deal will be Chelsea. With Conte said to be keen on strengthening his options in the middle of the park, per Darren Lewis of the Daily Mirror, it’d be a huge surprise to see the Italian let arguably his best midfielder leave the club.

That’s unlikely to stop United making advances for Matic this summer, as Mourinho is renowned as a tenacious pursuer of players in the transfer market. However, convincing a positional rival to cash in on such an important figure in an area they’re already light on numbers may even be beyond the Special One.

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