5 things you might not know about Nemanja Matic

31 July 2017 04:53

Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic has joined Manchester United in deal believed to be in the region of £40million.

The 28-year-old becomes the third new arrival this summer after defender Victor Lindelof and striker Romelu Lukaku signed from Benfica and Everton respectively, earlier in the transfer window.

Here, we look at five things you may not have known about the Serbian international .

FAMILY AFFAIR

Matic was coached by his father at his first youth-team club, Vrelo, before joining several other youth teams including Obrenovac 1905, Red Star Belgrade and Partizan. However, he is not the only Matic to make it in the professional ranks. His younger brother, Uros, is a central midfielder who plays for Danish side Copenhagen. The 27-year-old started his career at Slovakian side Kosice, where Nemanja was a first-team regular, and would join his older brother at Benfica in 2013. A year later, Uros signed for Dutch side NAC Breda before joining Austrian side Sturm Graz and then Copenhagen in January 2017. He made 39 appearances in all competitions last season and also featured in the Europa League.

HIS FOOTBALL CAREER COULD HAVE TAKEN A DIFFERENT PATH

Prior to joining Chelsea for his first spell in 2009, Matic had a trial with then-Premier League side Middlesbrough and was set to join the club after an international break with Serbia. However, talks broke down between the north-east side and Kosice before the Blues stepped in to snap up the midfielder for £1.5million. Where would his career be now if he joined Boro?

HE USED TO BE AN ATTACKING MIDFIELDER

The 28-year-old was originally signed as a playmaker by Carlo Ancelotti in 2009 but struggled to break into the first team with the likes of Germany international Michael Ballack and stalwart Michael Essien ahead of him in the midfield pecking order. However, the transfer to Benfica in 2011 saw manager Jorge Jesus change his role into a defensive midfielder, where he has become one of the most consistent players in the position ever since. Matic has shown he can still contribute in the final third of the pitch too, with long-range efforts against Everton and Tottenham in recent seasons reminding fans that he is not a one-trick pony.

REFUSED TO PLAY FOR SERBIA

Whilst at Benfica, Matic refused to play for his country under the management of Sinisa Mihajlovic, citing the fact that he did play a single minute during his five previous call-ups before returning to the squad for a World Cup qualifier against Croatia in September 2013, where he was sent off. He also threatened to quit international football in November 2015 after criticising his Serbia team-mates as they crashed to a 4-1 defeat to Czech Republic with qualification to Euro 2016 already out of the question with a fourth-placed finish in their group.

MOURINHO RATES HIM

The Portuguese manager was the man who brought Matic back to Stamford Bridge from Benfica for a fee around £20million to reinforce Chelsea's central midfield. Mourinho spoke glowingly of the Serbian on his second unveiling, he said: "He has grown as a player in Portugal and has become a fantastic all-round midfielder. I like him a lot because of his stability. He is a very stable player for someone who is still so young, only 25." When Mourinho took over at Manchester United last summer, the 54-year-old was linked with the central midfielder but the move was blocked by Chelsea boss Antonio Conte. He has now fulfilled his wish at the second time of asking.

Source: PA


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