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Chelsea must replace Nemanja Matic with the right man

Tuesday 1st August 2017
As transfers go, it is a very odd one. Nemanja Matic was one of Chelsea's unsung heroes last season as he and N'Golo Kante provided a combative bedrock to the Blues' centre throughout their title winning campaign. However, the Serbian has now joined Manchester United, becoming their third signing of the summer.

The defensive-midfielder will, as he so often is, be the underappreciated one. For Chelsea, he provided a powerful presence in midfield that was outstanding when shielding his defence and he is very adept at moving the ball forward. In the transfer market, he will once again be a signing that falls to the wayside because of the size of the price-tags the likes of Romelu Lukaku commanded.

However, this is where he has always done his best work, and where he will continue to do so. For Manchester United, Matic could become their signing of the season.

For Chelsea, his departure means one thing: they must find a replacement. Tiemoue Bakayoko was brought in from Monaco earlier in the summer and this is what seemingly triggered Matic's exit. Antonio Conte will of course have seen enough in the new man to warrant letting the Serbian leave, but there is no telling how his first season in England will go.

After all, many a great player has come to the Premier League and failed to live up to the hype they brought. Indeed, some supremely talented players have taken many years to become accustomed to the league, with David de Gea the best example of this.

Therefore, Bakayoko could face similar footballing adversity, which would massively hurt Chelsea's defence of their title. Unlike Manchester United, the Blues are trusting a player that has not ever played in the Premier League. It could be a masterstroke, but, equally, it could be a huge mistake.

For Conte then, it is vital that he can replace Matic with both Bakayoko and another midfielder, preferably one that has experience in England already.

Leicester's Danny Drinkwater is reportedly linked with the Champions, and it would constitute a reunion with old teammate Kante. Drinkwater is a very talented player that is very tidy on the ball with his neat passing and dribbling, while he is a workhorse when it comes to his defensive work, meaning he is rarely seen in the opposition's half with his hands on his hips watching the play unfold near to his own goal.

The Englishman is not an out-and-out defensive-midfielder though and the Foxes' struggles last season have caused some to question how effective he can actually be on a consistent basis against the best teams.

Going further afield, Chelsea could look to former Stoke man Steven N'Zonzi. The Sevilla midfielder was outstanding last season as he provided a powerful presence in-front of his defence, and he is exactly the sort of player Chelsea could use.
His skill with the ball at his feet is of a high order and he is intelligent on and off the ball, able to pick out an incisive pass and cut one out, he is a very well-rounded defensive-midfielder. His Premier League experience with Stoke also means he would be held in a higher regard to many of his cohorts, and a move for him would make sense.

Unfortunately for Chelsea, many players may assume that they will be taking up a place in the squad just to make up the numbers and provide cover. Of course, there is room for them to leapfrog Bakayoko, but they may view the fact Conte bought him very early in the summer as an indication that the former Monaco player is key to the Italian's plans.

Chelsea are building towards a side that they will hope can transfer their domestic domination into a Continental one. The loss of Matic is a major blow though, and they must replace him adequately, or face the consequences.
Ben Darvill

I graduated with an upper second class degree in English and Creative writing from Cardiff Metropolitan University. I have been a freelance sports writer since leaving University and have written for a number of online websites. I am a Chelsea and England fan but I enjoy watching any team play as I have an intense passion for football.

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