Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas may have created most of the headlines, but there is another player who should be mentioned in the same breath – Nemanja Matic. The Serb was brought back to Chelsea for £21 million last January after having been valued at not more than £2 million three years ago. It is clear that Chelsea made an astonishing mistake with Matic, but the club has also been big enough to accept the mistake by bringing him back. Since returning, Matic has been a ‘monster’ in Chelsea’s midfield.
The 26-year-old has done most of the dirty work by sitting in front of the defence. It has allowed Eden Hazard and Oscar a bit more freedom. Much of Jose Mourinho’s success in his first spell at Chelsea can be attributed to the brilliance of Claude Makelele. Matic represents a much better physical specimen than Makelele. More importantly, he does appear to have the complete trust of Mourinho. Matic has played every minute of the Premier League and Champions League matches this season. Speaking to Sky Sports, he said:
“Jose has helped me a lot. He gave me that confidence to play my game. Before every game he gives me a clear message what I have to do. Sometimes he doesn’t have to say anything, he just looks at me and I know what he thinks I have to do in the next situation.
“He’s a great coach and I hope we will continue like this and that I will continue to improve with him.”
Matic does not just provide cover for the defenders, but the 26-year-old also goes forward. This is something that John obi Mikel simply could not offer. Matic has been a regular first-team player at Chelsea for less than a year, but he is already just one short of the goals scored by Mikel who has more than 300 appearances. Matic has scored three goals this campaign. The 26-year-old, though, is ready to let his teammates take the plaudits. He continued:
“I know that I have some qualities. I think I can run a lot, that I’m physically well but if I have other qualities I will leave other people to speak about me.”
Mourinho may decide to rotate against Tottenham after seeing his team suffer from tiredness during the closing stages of the 0-0 draw with Sunderland on Saturday. However, one can be almost certain that the 6’4″ Serb will continue to dominate midfield with his towering presence.