Selling players to title rivals is a dangerous practice, but Chelsea would seemingly have no problem when it comes to Nemanja Matic.
The Serbian midfielder battled with Cesc Fabregas for a starting spot in the Premier League champions’ starting eleven last season – and rather than make him compete for his place all over again next year, manager Antonio Conte is simply making him available for the right price.
The Times are reporting on Friday that Chelsea would sell Matic to Manchester United in order to speed up the process of bringing Monaco’s Tiemoue Bakayoko to Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea have agreed a fee of around £36m with the Ligue 1 winners for the French international, and all things going well he will become Conte’s first signing of the summer. One of the consequences of that deal apparently is that space needs to be created in the Chelsea midfield.
Fabregas seemed the more likely to move on given his relatively sporadic nature of his Premier League appearances last season (in the early part of the campaign at least), and this is seen as an effort by Conte to placate the Spanish international by removing a competitor for that place next to N’Golo Kante in the midfield.
Juventus are still thought to be interested, and were heavily linked with a move for him last summer, but if Jose Mourinho does decide to try and sign Matic for a second time, a significant roadblock has now been removed.
Once Bakayoko is signed, meanwhile, Conte will move on to other targets. Leandro Bonucci and Virgil van Dijk are the primary targets at central defence, while efforts to sign Juventus left-back Alex Sandro are ongoing.
On this week’s Mixer Irish Football Podcast we spoke to Finn Harps striker Danny Morrissey, and looked at the League of Ireland sides’ Champions and Europa League draws.