Jose Mourinho landed one of his long-term summer transfer targets when 28-year-old Nemanja Matic joined from Chelsea. The Serb signed on a three-year deal with an option for a further year if United want. Given he will only be 32, it will be a surprise if United don’t exercise that option.
The Manchester United manager need a replacement for ageing midfielder Michael Carrick, 35, to allow the attacking potential of club record signing Paul Pogba, 24, to be released. Mourinho is familiar with Matic’s work following their time together at Chelsea. The Portuguese re-signed the Serbian international in a £21m deal in 2014.
With Chelsea signing 22-year-old Tiemoue Bakayoko from Monaco, the belief grew that Antonio Conte wanted more pace in the centre of midfield with the pairing of N’Golo Kante, 26, lacking the speed to support the attack.
Matic, possessor of a powerful shot, has the defensive mindset much admired by Mourinho. The United boss made his side difficult to beat last season but that won’t be enough if they are to gatecrash the top four of the Premier League and the latter stages of the Champions League.
With a fee of £40m mentioned in the press, it takes United’s summer spending to £150m with no sign of it being finished yet. Renato Sanches, 19, remains in Mourinho’s sights although Chelsea stole a march on them recently when they conducted face-to-face negotiations with Bayern Munich in the Far East. A two-year loan is likely to take the young Portuguese international to Stamford Bridge rather than a permanent move to Old Trafford.