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Chelsea or Man Utd: What is happening with Nemanja Matic?

Nemanja Matic has become an integral part of the Chelsea midfield set-up over the past 3 seasons and was a significant figure as they won the 2014/15 Premier League title under current Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho playing 36 times.

After the Portuguese's dismissal and the Blues dismal following campaign, both he and the side were reinvigorated under new boss Antoine Conte and they went on to secure the trophy with two matches to spare last season. Serbian Matic's alertness, calmness and strength on the ball calibrated effectively with Ngolo Kante's energy and work-rate, which epitomised their play under the Italian.

Rumours have linked Matic with a move to Manchester United and a reunion with his former Blues boss Jose Mourinho, the man who brought the 28-year old to Stamford Bridge in 2014. But will the transfer become reality?

The Chelsea case

It would be hard to understand why he would want to move from a growing team with a young, enthusiastic Italian hunting for success. Perhaps Matic is looking for a change of scene at a different club with a familiar coach he knows well, but the question is whether Conte is willing to sell?

At the start of last season he insisted his midfielder is an important player for the team and said: "Nemanja is an important player for me and he knows this.There isn't a problem with him. Nemanja was a Chelsea player and is a Chelsea player". But, eyebrows were raised when both he and Diego Costa (who fell out with his manager in January) were left out of the tour in the Far East on July 14.

It is widely expected that Costa will leave, with Conte telling him and his team-mate that they will not be selected during their matches. There have been reports that the former Juventus boss wants to keep Fabregas and is prepared to let Matic go, but I find it difficult to understand why he would want to let such a key star leave his side, both figuratively and literally.

Maybe he is being given a rest after a long, draining campaign, or is there something more, a fallout?

The former looks more likely, however, I do not envisage the transfer going through as not only will Conte want to refuse selling to one of his fiercest rivals-adding another gun to United's artillery, but he will also have to find an adequate replacement, with Fabregas the only other centre midfielder close to Matic's class.

Ultimately though, player power is rife across the Premier League and Matic does want to leave, a substantial offer from the Red Devils may too good to refute.

The Manchester United case

With the ageing Michael Carrick now coming towards the end of his career at 35 years old , if Mourinho were to sign his former player it may prove to be an invaluable signing, someone who has composure and can pass the ball expertly.

Having him alongside world-record signing Paul Pogba would allow the young Frenchman freedom and space as his partner can cover for him and set him for attacks. It would mean that Pogba would get forward more and not having to trackback and defend, which is a particular weakness of his.

Having an energetic, combative and stable defensive midfielder in the team will also help shore up the defence, and may help the central of defence, who have struggled for consistency and have leaked goals in recent years.

His experience at winning the league will also give the squad a morale boost, and a title-winning signing would enlighten the fans that a challenge could be around the corner.

From a business point of view, it may not be beneficial as they have already spent over £100 million this summer on Lindelof and Lukaku, and a move for Ivan Perisic may also be on the cards.

If Mourinho wants to strengthen in January to improve their chances domestically and on the European front, then saving money and not overspending would be vital to this.

If he wants to make another big signing this summer then he must choose between Perisic and Matic, as signing both would not be sensible financially.

The verdict

A move to Manchester United may excite Matic at the prospect of returning to play under his old boss and rekindling an old relationship, but both Chelsea and Conte in particular, are firm in their stance with players-Costa being a prime example.

Although unlikely, an offer in the region of £35 million may be enough to open the door that is of course if the Serbian wants to depart.

Joe Baker
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Joe Baker

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