Nemanja Matic. Re-signed by Jose Mourinho in 2014 to add some much needed steel to our flimsy midfield. Initially, he was a revelation, but his form has nose-dived in the past 18 months – despite being a cornerstone in Antonio Conte’s title-winning side.
It appears as though Chelsea could now be prepared to cash-in on the Serb, with ESPN reporting that Manchester United, of all clubs, are closing in on a deal to secure his signature. On the surface of it, selling Matic to a direct rival is a questionable move from the club’s hierarchy, but there is logic behind it.
Just look at the stats. Throughout the 17 Premier League appearances Matic made between January 2014 and May 2014, he averaged 2.56 tackles and 2.04 interceptions per 90 minutes. In the 2014/15 campaign, he upped his averages to 2.91 tackles per game and 2.10 interceptions per game.
Despite playing 2694 minutes of Premier League football last term, Matic’s form, perhaps under the radar, dropped considerably. He averaged just 1.24 tackles per game and 1.84 interceptions per game.
Some may argue that Chelsea were a better team last campaign, and thus Matic had less to do in the middle of the park – but we averaged 53% possession in the league, the same figure as both the 2013/14 and 2014/15 campaigns.
We have established that Matic is not the player he once was, but why cash-in? Well, Tiemoue Bakayoko, who is on the verge of moving to Stamford Bridge, averaged 2.27 tackles and 2.19 interceptions in Ligue 1 last season, as well as 2.58 and 3.22 in the Champions League. The stats don’t lie, we are getting a clear upgrade.
Selling Matic to Man United would also see Jose Mourinho tick a new defensive midfielder off his transfer wish-list, meaning he would likely no longer pursue Eric Dier or Fabinho, who are both five-years younger than Matic, and arguably better already.
If Matic does depart, we will thank him for his service, but also thank Man United for the £40M they’re reportedly set to spend on him.