Jose happy to bag ‘Mourinho player’ Matic
LONDON — Serbia international midfielder Nemanja Matic signed for Manchester United on Monday from Premier League champion Chelsea, the buying club announced, for a reported fee of around $53 million.
It is the second time United manager Jose Mourinho has invested in the 28-yearold’s talents having brought him back to Chelsea in 2014 after a successful spell with Benfica.
Matic signed a three-year contract with United with the option to extend it by a year.
“Nemanja is a Manchester United player and a Jose Mourinho player,” Mourinho told United’s website.
“He represents everything we want in a footballer: loyalty, consistency, ambition, a team player.
“I would like to thank him for his desire to join us because without that, it would be impossible to have him here. I am sure our players and supporters will love him.”
Matic played just 65 minutes for Chelsea in his first period at Stamford Bridge before heading to Benfica to 2011 in the same deal that saw defender David Luiz arrive in west London from the Lisbon club.
He said Mourinho’s presence at United made the switch an easy decision.
“I am delighted to have joined Manchester United. To work with Jose Mourinho once again was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down,” he said.
“I have enjoyed my time at Chelsea and would like to thank the club and the fans for their support. I cannot wait to meet my new teammates and start training with them.
“This is a very exciting time for the club and I am looking forward to playing my part in creating more history for this great club.”
Matic’s arrival takes Mourinho’s spending to almost $200 million in the offseason having outlaid $41 million for Swedish defender Victor Lindelof from Benfica and $100 million on Belgium international striker Romelu Lukaku from Everton — though that could rise to $120 million with add-ons.
Ironically, Lukaku’s deal almost put a spike in Matic’s transfer to United as Chelsea had earmarked the striker as its No 1 target and was not pleased when he was snatched from underneath it.
At one point it was thought the Serbian, who had found life increasingly difficult at Stamford Bridge competing with French star N’Golo Kante for a spot in central midfield, would end up at Juventus instead.
However, once United was quoted $66 million for England defensive midfielder Eric Dier by Tottenham it switched its attentions back to Matic and the Blues relented.
Matic enjoyed a far happier second spell at Chelsea than his first one, winning
This is a very exciting time for the club and I am looking forward to playing my part in creating more history for this great club.
the Premier League title twice and, while never a prolific scorer, tallying one of the goals in last season’s FA Cup semifinal win over Spurs at Wembley.
In all he scored seven times in 154 appearances for Chelsea.
“The Serbian departs Stamford Bridge having played a pivotal role in two title triumphs, as well as winning the League Cup with the Blues,” said Chelsea in a long farewell statement.
“These trophies all came in his second spell at the club, after rejoining Chelsea in early 2014 to add steel and strength to the midfield. We thank Nemanja for his fantastic service and wish him well for the future.”
Mourinho’s spending may not be over yet as he is known to cherish Inter Milan’s Croatian attacker Ivan Perisic.
United, though, has balked at Inter's initial demand of $64 million for the 28-year-old, although it hopes the Serie A side might lower the price.
Nemanja Matic in action for Chelsea