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The resurgence of Nemanja Matic

Nemanja Matic signed a three-year deal plus an additional one-year extension when he moved to Manchester United from Chelsea in 2017. When Matic joined Man United from Chelsea, everyone knew United were getting the benefit of the deal. Matic wasted no time in making his presence felt at Old Trafford and immediately attained a cult status among the fans. However, Matic suffered a massive dip in form afterward.

Matic began this season on the bench, barely playing except for the odd Europa League group games and the Carabao Cup. Matic’s dull nature and time spent looking for passes frequently slowed down Man United’s attack, leaving Ole Gunnar Solskjaer frustrated in the dugout.

Matic just didn’t fit Solskjaer’s vision for the future. Before Man United’s victory over Burnley in late December, Matic had only featured in two Premier League games, and there were doubts that the Serbian midfielder’s time at Old Trafford was coming to an end. There was interest from other clubs across Europe heading into the January transfer window. Matic was also unhappy with his lack of playing time and Solskjaer’s management as a whole. With Man United building a new young and dynamic team, Matic did not seem to be the right fit for Ole’s project.

The improved form of Fred this season and the emergence of Scott McTominay also restricted Matic to the bench. Matic looked to have fallen in the midfield pecking order. Scott McTominay’s injury on Boxing Day turned out to be a moment of good luck for Matic needed to turn his United career around.

With Paul Pogba also out injured and Andreas Pereira not playing, Solskjaer had no choice but to recall Matic into his first-team. Since being recalled into the first team after Boxing Day, Matic has played very well. He received a new one-year contract extension. Things have now turned for Matic, and the kind of impact he has made is visible. Matic has produced consistent performances since winning his place back in December. The previous one-year extension has now become a new three-year deal that will keep him at Old Trafford until the summer of 2023.

 

Why Matic is an unsung hero for Man United

There is a reason why Nemanja Matic was recently awarded a new three-year contract extension despite being 31. He’s been the integral link between the defense and attack for Man United since the restart of the Premier League, acting as the anchorman in the heart of the midfield.

Matic is one of the few Man United players who resumed the League right where they left off. Matic is in great shape and is in a fantastic form. Matic has played a vital role since the season restarted. Not only has Matic bullied midfielders with his strength, but he has also given a reassuring presence to the defenders by sitting deep and cutting off opposition attacks. Matic has given Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba the freedom to create their magic upfront. Pogba’s natural style of play means he can lose the ball while trying to release a teammate in space. Fernandes also plays the same way during the offensive phase. Pogba and Fernandes lose the ball 30.5 times on average every game. Man United already boasts of creative geniuses like Pogba and Fernandes. Matic’s link up with the duo allows both Bruno and Pogba to spend more time influencing the game alongside the attackers instead of dropping deep into the midfield every time.

When Man United are in possession, Matic smartly positions himself between the two center-backs, essentially creating a makeshift back three and allowing the full-backs to go forward and join the attack in the final third. Matic also helps the two center-backs to push forward on odd occasions. Since the resumption of the league, Matic has provided composure in possession against teams like Sheffield United, Brighton, Bournemouth, and Aston Villa. The crowning moment of Matic’s resurgence came against Brighton when his sublime volleyed pass to Greenwood led to Fernandes’ goal. In recent weeks, he has become the most dependable player for Ole Gunnar Soljskaer.

 

What next for Matic at Man United?

Nemanja Matic is a solid veteran who won two Premier League titles with Chelsea. He knows what it takes to get over the line and has the experience. In Matic, Ole has gotten a player who can be a leader in the dressing room and also help in the development of some of the young players who are coming through the ranks at Old Trafford. He will also be integral to the success of Ole’s

 

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