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The Mourinho revolution at Old Trafford got underway this week with the signing of Ivorian defender Eric Bailly from Villarreal. More are certain to follow as the Portuguese boss looks to stamp his mark on the team and one man that has been strongly linked with a move to Manchester is Nemanja Matic.
The Serbian midfielder has reportedly told new Chelsea manager Antonio Conte that he’d like to join up with his former boss again and with Matic not involved in the European Championships, there is no obvious obstacle to preventing a deal going through if it suits all parties.
Matic was one of the most influential players during Chelsea’s title winning 2014-15 season and although his form has suffered since then, a move to Manchester may help reinvigorate him and he is certainly a player that is highly rated by Mourinho.
A genuine holding midfielder
Looking back on Mourinho’s three Premier League winning sides, they have always included one out and out holding midfielder that is in the team primarily to win the ball back and play a selfless role for the team. Claude Makélélé was the master of the role in the first two successes and Matic did a similar job two seasons ago.
The current Manchester United squad doesn’t really possess someone of that ilk or at least to that level. United’s central midfielders consist of Michael Carrick, who has just signed a new contract but is more of a ball-playing figure meanwhile the likes of Schneiderlin and Schweinsteiger haven’t really been at their best since joining the Red Devils.
Matic’s potential arrival may well hasten the departure of one of the two but Mourinho has regularly shown his ruthless streak and is likely to come to the conclusion that Matic would bring more to the team than the duo.
His presence would primarily do two things. For one, it would help shield a defence that may not have conceded many goals last season but that was more down to the tactics of the manager than their own brilliance.
It would also provide the rock in the middle of the pitch that would help give United’s more exciting attacking players the freedom to shine without having to worry so much about their defensive responsibilities.
Proven Premier League quality
This United squad has for the first time in the Premier League era become a bit short on players that have been there and won the competition.
The experience and know-how of the likes of Scholes and Giggs always rubbed off on new additions to the squad in the past and there is a danger that if Mourinho does most of his business abroad he will be left with a squad that has little experience of playing in the league, let alone winning it.
Matic would add a bit of proven Premier League quality into the team in a key area of the pitch and that can only benefit the side overall.
Mourinho knows how to get the best out of him too and there is as yet no indication that he will feature prominently in Conte’s plans, so it is a move that could ultimately suit all parties.
Written by Mark Sochon
Follow Mark on Twitter @tikitakagol
Check out his brilliant blog on all things La Liga, Tiki-Taka-Gol!
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