Manchester United fans might get the chance to see their latest recruit in action at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Wednesday night as Nemanja Matic trained for the first time with his new teammates on Tuesday.
The prolonged transfer of the title-winning Chelsea midfielder is finally over and supporters are now eager to see how his addition to the team will work in tandem with Paul Pogba, The expectation is that the Serbian’s arrival will free up the Frenchman, who can subsequently illustrate just why Jose Mourinho splashed out on him last summer.
As reported by Sky Sports (via The Independent), ex-Manchester United man Gary Neville has expressed his surprise at Antonio Conte letting a player go that featured on a regular basis for him last season, even more so to a rival.
“It’s a strange one for Chelsea to let him go because I thought he was good for them with [N’Golo] Kante and I think they need to strengthen.
“So I’m not sure why he’s been let go so they must have replacements in hand.”
The former Valencia manager highlighted the need for a holding midfielder at Old Trafford this season given the advancing years of new club captain Michael Carrick.
“United need a holding midfield player. [Morgan] Schneiderlin was let go earlier this year, [Bastian] Schweinsteiger didn’t get a game.
“There needed to be a replacement in there and ultimately I think Matic will fit the bill.
“Michael Carrick’s obviously got one more year but he can’t play every single week so they’ve got to have that player come in and do the same job. I believe Nemanja Matic can do that.”
Chelsea have already signed Monaco starlet Tiemoue Bakayoko in a £40 million deal, which will soften the blow of losing Matic to their rivals.
The Serbia international’s decision to leave the champions for a team that finished sixth last season shows his belief in Jose Mourinho and bodes well for Manchester United fans that this season the club can once again challenge for the Premier League title.
Matic has joined fellow signings Victor Lindelof and Romelu Lukaku at Old Trafford but, unlike Mourinho’s first two summer signings, the 29-year-old will face a race to be fit for the start of the campaign having missed Chelsea’s pre-season camp.
United’s final pre-season game is against Sampdoria in Dublin on Wednesday night ahead of next week’s UEFA Super Cup clash with Real Madrid.
Damien McEvoy, Pundit Arena