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Manchester City's Matija Nastasic - The Unsung Hero
As other young Premier League players spend their wages on flash nights out in desperate attempts to gain a 'celebrity status', a young Serbian centre back let's his match performances do the talking, the player in question is of course Matija Nastasic.
Born in Valjevo western Serbia, he showed great footballing promise from a young age and joined Partizan Belgrade's excellent youth academy, an academy which has produced great players like Stevan Jovetic, Simon Vukcevic and Adem Ljajic. Whilst at Partizan, Matija was loaned out to lower league side Teleoptik to gain match experience, during his stay at Teleoptik his good performances caught the eye of the Italian league and Fiorentina in particular, soon enough the young Serb was signed for 2.5 million euros, although he was signed for the youth team he was handed his Serie A debut in 2011 and performed excellently. He followed up his debut performance with a series of consistently great performances for La Viola, great performances including his near total domination of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, a striker who gives even the most experienced defender nightmares. In light of his performances, Manchester City signed him in 2012 in a deal which cost City around 12 million pounds plus Montenegrin flop Stefan Savic.
I must admit that I met his arrival with some scepticism, mainly because of City's previous bad experience with Stefan Savic who was considered to be a similar player to him, but he has been nothing short of a revelation since his arrival. At times, Matija looks like a central defender who has been playing football at the highest level for many, many years, his composure and self-assurance on the ball is on par with some of the best defenders on the planet, it's shocking to know that he is barely over twenty years old.
His wisdom is beyond his years and that has shone through in his first season at City, he has been called upon at difficult times and has never let the team down, in fact, his defensive performances have saved City on numerous occasions because when things get hectic at the back he can be relied on to remain calm and get the job done, his defending might not be the most glamorous in the world but he more than makes up for it with his brilliant composure, passing ability, tackling ability and electric pace which makes him difficult to beat for any striker.
At City his performances have been applauded, alongside Pablo Zabaleta he has been one of City's best performers this season and the key to this is his consistency, something quite a few of City's players have lacked this season. And yet somehow his ability and fantastic season have gone unnoticed by most non-City fans, the most notable example of this is the ludicrous decision that the PFA took in not nominating him for the PFA Young Player of the Year Award, an award for which Danny Welbeck, who despite being an attacking minded player has only managed to score one goal in twelve starts and thirteen appearances as a sub this Premier League season, has been nominated for this year.
The fact that he's going unnoticed by the wider footballing community in England makes this bargain buy's performances all the sweeter.
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