Nemanja Matic completes Manchester United move - How he compares to the midfielders at Old Trafford

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Reports emerged on Sunday that Nemanja Matic has completed his medical ahead of a move to Manchester United.

Jose Mourinho has been in the market for a holding midfielder all summer and has finally landed on a tried and tested option in the Serbian.

Matic and Mourinho won the Premier League title together at Chelsea in the Portuguese’s second term at the club and are set to work together again.

Here’s a look at how he compares to the midfielder department at United and how he can improve it.

PASSING

While distribution isn’t necessarily Matic’s forte, he is a reliable passer and that is as crucial an attribute as any as a holding midfielder. It’s all well and good winning possession, but if you’re wasteful on the ball, it doesn’t help the team.

In that regard, Matic boasts a fine pass success rate of 87.7%, bettered only by Michael Carrick (89%) among the United midfielders.

Having N’Golo Kante as his midfield partner last season, Matic was able to venture further up the pitch, something he wasn’t accustomed to. However, it did lead him to registering an unprecedented seven assists in the league. That’s more than any United player, let alone midfielder.

The Serbian is no playmaker though. He did manage to stride forward and find the occasional decisive pass but he’s not going to carve a defence open on a regular basis. He managed only 26 key passes last term but fortunately, that’s not an area in which he is expected to excel.

Instead, Paul Pogba and even Herrera to an extent will be granted more freedom to unlock the opposition’s defence with Matic anchoring the midfield.


DEFENSIVE DUTIES

The Serbia international has been recruited for the sole purpose of bringing the right balance to United’s midfield. To do that, he needs to shield the defence to the best of his abilities, allowing players around him to flourish.

While Matic is renowned for his defensive displays in the middle of the park, his stats in the league last season aren’t particularly impressive. Herrera was by far the superior ball-winner, notching up 84 tackles and 82 interceptions compared to the former Benfica player’s figures of 52 and 50.

To an extent, Kante’s dogged nature and superior defensive attributes did limit Matic’s contribution in that regard, something the player himself has alluded to.

“Since Kante came, he’s worked more behind me and his job is what I have done for the last two years,” Matic said last season.

He was almost a spectator at times with Kante rushing over to neutralise virtually every threat. At United though, the onus would fall on him to do that job and that should see him contribute more in a defensive capacity.

Indeed, he managed 84 tackles and 67 interceptions in the 2015/16 season while boasting 128 tackles and 73 interceptions the year before.

VERDICT

He is far from a marquee name but that seems to be the theme of United’s transfer business this summer. Romelu Lukaku although coming for a huge fee, is a proven Premier League goalscorer and his arrival almost guarantees United goals.

Their pursuit of Ivan Perisic has a similar feel to it. He’s capable of beating a man, is consistent with his crossing and clinical in front of goal but won’t exactly take your breath away and is pushing on at the age of 28.

However, given that apart from Michael Carrick, the team now looks to the likes of Antonio Valencia, Hererra and even Pogba for leadership, means that United should be targeting players who are experienced, accomplished and reliable.

That’s exactly what Matic is; a reliable soldier, a solid buy.

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Nemanja Matic eager to complete Manchester United move, says Jose Mourinho

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Nemanja Matic

Nemanja Matic is eager to leave Chelsea and sign for Manchester United, according to Red Devils boss Jose Mourinho.

Reports have claimed a deal in the region of £40 million is close to being agreed between the two clubs for the 28-year-old Serbia international midfielder.

Matic would be United’s third summer signing following the arrivals of defender Victor Lindelof from Benfica and striker Romelu Lukaku from Everton. It would also be the second time Mourinho has bought Matic, having signed him for Chelsea in 2014.

Asked about the possibility of a reunion following United’s 3-0 pre-season friendly win against Valerenga in Oslo on Sunday, Mourinho said in a press conference shown on MUTV: “I’m waiting for news.

“I know that he wants that very, very much and when a player wants very, very much the chance is bigger, the chance is bigger, so I think we have a chance but in football until it’s official, I saw so many things happen that I refuse to say more than I am telling you now.”

Chelsea spent £21 million just over three and a half years ago to buy Matic from Benfica for a second spell at Stamford Bridge.

His possible arrival at Old Trafford might spark speculation around the future of Marouane Fellaini and the big Belgian was linked with a move to Turkish club Galatasaray over the weekend.

Fellaini, in the final year of his contract, provided a reminder of what he can do by heading United’s first goal against Valerenga and after the game Mourinho dismissed suggestions he would be sold.

“It’s easier for Galatasaray to get me than Marouane. If they need a manager, they can try and have a chance, but Marouane? Forget it. He’s too important for me,” Mourinho said.

Provided by Press Association

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Barcelona's Andres Iniesta and Liverpool's Emre Can have big decisions to make with one year left on their contracts

Chris Bailey 30/07/2017
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The summer transfer window is still in full string, but there are a number of high-profile players who have their eye on 2018 as they weigh up whether to stay put or seek pastures new.

With just one year left on their current deals, these players have all the power as they can simply walk away next year or force a move to another club for a cut-price fee.

Below are five big names whose contract situation may have slipped under the radar.

Andres Iniesta – Barcelona

Barcelona’s captain may accept being gently phased out but a more pressing question is whether Barcelona are simply willing to let him go.

Spanish journalist Gerard Romero recently claimed that Barca are open to letting their club legend test the waters in January, when he will have just six months remaining on his contract.

Club president Josep Maria Bartomeu has said he wants Iniesta to remain ‘for life’ but with Philippe Coutinho and Marco Veratti rumours swirling in Catalonia, the search for the 33-year-old’s successor is clearly ongoing.

Leaving likelihood: 5/10

Legend could leave: Barcelona captain Iniesta.

Legend could leave: Barcelona captain Iniesta.

Emre Can – Liverpool

Depending on who you listen to, Can is either closing in or far from a fresh contract with Liverpool – with negotiations over a base 100k wage a rumoured sticking point between the two parties.

The German has all the talent in the world but in Liverpool’s eyes, he may have yet to reach the consistency in midfield to deserve such a contract.

His positioning can often leave Reds fans scratching the head, but he is equally capable of scoring a goal of the season contender – no one needs reminding of his jaw-dropping overhead kick against Watford in May.

Juventus are ready to pounce should an agreement not be reached and as Can is not even a guaranteed starter at Anfield, it is no surprise that the 23-year-old is mulling over his options.

Leaving likelihood: 6/10

Question time: Can on the charge for Liverpool.

Question time: Can on the charge for Liverpool.

Stefan de Vrij – Lazio

Liverpool and Juventus may also butt heads over Stefan de Vrij, who has made no indication that he plans to stay with Lazio.

Lazio can simply not afford to let an asset like the 25-year-old leave on the cheap next summer, and with so many teams in need of a quality centre-back, they can expect to recoup £25m if they pull the trigger.

Club president Claudio Lotito has insisted the De Vrij is going nowhere ahead of the new season, but if can’t get the Dutchman to sign on the dotted line, he will be left with little choice.

Leaving likelihood: 8/10

Making his defence: De Vrij in pre-season training with Lazio.

Making his defence: De Vrij in pre-season training with Lazio.

Ross Barkley – Everton

The question is not if but when Ross Barkley leaves Goodison Park, having grown disillusioned with life under Ronald Koeman. A highly-rated Englishman heading for his mid-20s without the performances to back it up – I think we’ve all heard this one before.

Koeman had tried to movitate Barkley – publicly calling him out on numerous occasions last season – but if anything the Dutchman’s cajoling had an adverse effect on the 23-year-old.

The midfielder, who has been ignored by new England manager Gareth Southgate so far, is understood to be seeking a six-figure wage. That may put off teams such as Tottenham, who will also need to stump up around £25m to prise him for Everton this summer.

When push comes to shove, however, surely neither manager nor player will want to be in each other’s company for another season.

Leaving likelihood: 10/10

On the move from Goodison: Barkley.

On the move from Goodison: Barkley.

Jose Gimenez – Atletico Madrid

Unlike Barkley, Jose Gimenez does not have a problem with his current club. After all, Antoine Griezmann was so loyal to Atletico Madrid and boss Diego Simeone that he promised to stay for another year amid fierce Manchester United interest.

However, though Gimenez has claimed he would be willing to sign a ‘contract for life’ in Madrid, that a deal is yet to be signed is telling with a host of big Premier League clubs reportedly very, very interested in the centre-back.

The Uruguayan is not even first-choice under Simeone – Stefan Savic and Diego Godin are usually the preferred pairing – though he is hardly in a rush at 22 years of age.

Stranger things have happened, but it is unlikely Gimenez will leave them in the lurch.

Leaving likelihood: 4/10

Centre-back of attention: Jose Gimenez claims he is happy in Madrid.

Centre-back of attention: Jose Gimenez claims he is happy in Madrid.

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