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Nemanja Matic: Manchester United's midfield enforcer

Friday 13th October 2017
When Manchester United signed Nemanja Matic, some eyebrows were raised by Red Devils fans. The Serbia star has gone on to exceed all expectations.

In today's market, £40million for a player with Matic's experience, calibre and tactical nous is nothing short of a robbery. Yes, there were doubts amongst the Old Trafford terraces at first, but within minutes, those concerns were completely eradicated.

The Theatre of Dreams hasn't played host to an out-and-out defensive midfielder for years. In Matic, Jose Mourinho has found his Mr Reliable. The 29-year-old loves to do the dirty work. He lives for mopping things up. He enjoys dispossessing the opposing side in a physical, intimidating manner. Not only that, though, he can play a bit too...
Matic's on-ball ability is where I'd like to start. Manchester United's #31 doesn't hoof the ball into row-Z, he remains cool, calm and collected. More often than not, he'll side a slick, forward pass into the attackers in front of him. If no options are open, Old Trafford's new hero doesn't mind taking it on himself - and he'll beat a player or two with his extremely underrated footwork.

Mourinho is a wily old character - he knows exactly what is required to succeed in the English game. Matic epitomises the perfect player for United's Portuguese coach - and it all stems from his defensive ability. Although he may not be the quickest, the 6'4 midfielder will cover every blade of grass for the cause. His intimidating presence strikes fear in his direct opponents, and in a one-on-one battle, there is nobody else in the Red Devils ranks I'd have more confidence in.

I don't think I'll ever understand Chelsea's decision to let him leave, particularly to a direct rival. Perhaps I'm missing something, but weakening your own squad whilst strengthening a foe is never a good idea. Antonio Conte seemed to be enraged at the time, and following Matic's start to the season, that fire in his belly is undoubtedly building with each passing week.

Let's talk statistics

In the Premier League, Matic has been a Manchester United everpresent, playing every single minute of their domestic season thus far (per WhoScored). In terms of passing, Matic boasts an impressive completion percentage of 88.5. The former Chelsea man is averaging 1.8 tackles per game across all competitions, whilst also contributing with 2 interceptions a match. On top of that, he's yet to pick up a card, which highlights the precision and timing of his tackling. United's midfield powerhouse adds one key pass every other game; including tacking on one assist to date.

United have found the perfect midfield enforcer. At times, his work may go unnoticed, but that's the nature of his role. Matic is a player who'll give you a solid 7/10 every single week. He allows the creative players within the team to affect the game in the final third rather than tracking back, but what's most important is that he's trustworthy. That's exactly why Mourinho signed him. Again.
Jordan Street

Jordan Street, 25-year old sports writer. Avid Manchester United fan and season ticket holder. Lover of the Premier League. Enjoys American sports. Tom Brady's biggest admirer, Kyrie Irving for MVP.

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