With Nemanja Matic on the brink of a return to Chelsea, Sky Sports takes a look at what he will bring to the Stamford Bridge club with the help of expert views and Opta data...
By Adam Bate
Last Updated: 15/01/14 5:13pm
"I am a central midfielder and I know I am not well known but I have physical power and I am quite a technical, left-footed player. I am a solid midfielder, I have a lot to offer and for sure to progress and I will show everyone why I am at Chelsea." The words of Nemanja Matic following his transfer to Chelsea. Not in 2014 but in August 2009 after agreeing a £1.5million move from Slovakian club MFK Kosice. Four-and-a-half years on, he'll be hoping to make more of an impact second time around.
In truth, the Serbia international was scarcely given an opportunity in his first spell at Stamford Bridge. Two Premier League appearances as a substitute at home to Wolves and Wigan as well as a taste of FA Cup action from the bench against Watford were all he had to show for his stay before being shipped out to Vitesse and eventually Benfica. However, the fact that Chelsea won those three games by an aggregate total of 17-0 might be a good omen.
It certainly hasn't deterred Matic. In fact, the midfielder has stated his love of Chelsea ahead of the official confirmation - perhaps a key point given that there were reports of strong interest from Manchester United. "It is the right moment to leave," he said, quoted in A Bola. "I want to improve, I want to play in a better league and I want to go to Chelsea, a club I also love." He's happy. But what exactly is it Chelsea buying? Here we look at the stats and ask the experts to get a better idea...
Taste of what to expect
Matic found the target in the return fixture against Anderlecht in the UEFA Champions League group stage earlier this season, but it was his efforts in the game between the two sides at the Estadio da Luz that best showcased his qualities. Using the ball effectively from a left-sided holding midfield role in a 4-3-3 formation, he completed 45 of his 53 passes. Also worth noting were his seven tackles in the match - no player on the pitch made more.
Tactical view - Jonathan Wilson
"I think there was an issue of pride there. Having sold him, would they pay money to bring him back? It's embarrassing but that's better than letting him go to United. I think he's the sort of player that United really need. He's really commanding at the back of midfield, powerful and has got that dynamism that United lack at the minute. He scores goals too. Jose Mourinho has hinted that he wants to move away from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-3-3 but he's limited in terms of players who can play at the back of midfield. He's got John Obi Mikel, Frank Lampard and Ramires but after that there's not a lot with Marco van Ginkel being injured. He'll be ideal for that role as a holding player in a 4-3-3."
View from Portugal - Tom Kundert
"Player of the season in Portugal in 2012/13, Benfica did well to hold on to Matic in the summer after months of consistently outstanding performances. Patrolling the base of the midfield with impressive dynamism and physicality, setting attacks in motion with accurate, incisive and deceptively creative passing, Matic also proved a goal threat himself. His astonishing strike against FC Porto was a highlight of last year's thrilling title race in Portugal. Failure to make progress out of the group stage of the Champions League opened the door for the Serbian's departure."