Mourinho on Matic
Nemanja Matic has revitalised Chelsea's season – but could Jose Mourinho's recent talk about the midfielder reveal far more about the Blues' summer transfer plans?
March 25th, 2014
In a few short sentences, Mourinho last weekend outlined the virtues that have made Matic an instant hit in his Chelsea side.
“His way of playing brings stability into the team,” he said.
“It is difficult (for him) to lose the ball, but at the same time he is not the kind of guy to play any square passes.
“He recovers a lot of balls in a clean way, he doesn’t make fouls in dangerous positions.”
In saying that, he wrote a nice little reference for the £21m Serbian. But he also did so much more.
Mourinho may have given quite a bit away about how Chelsea could develop during what he still insists is this ‘transition’ period.
Each of those positives came with a contrasting negative – and each of those almost carried its own name tag.
In talking about a player who does not lose the ball in midfield, he pointed the finger somewhat at Ramires – who does.
In flagging up Matic’s reluctance to offer the easy square pass, he shone the light on John Mikel Obi – whose game is characterised by it.
And in highlighting the virtues of a man that does not give away costly fouls, he immediately referenced David Luiz – who does exactly that.
Three men set for the exit door this summer, then? Certainly two of the three look pretty much on their way out already.
Another giveaway in Mourinho’s words on Matic was secreted in his explanation of how the deal to bring him to Chelsea was done.
“I gave the club, with the technical director, two or three options,” he said.
“We talked clearly that the most expensive one was Matic, but at the same time the relation between quality and price and the future, he was better for us.”
It may be obvious to say, but of those two or three options, Mourinho clearly got the one he most wanted.
And that, in itself, is further evidence of the shift in Chelsea power I’ve mentioned before – away from Michael Emenalo (the ‘technical director’ to whom he refers) and to Mourinho.
But it also, perhaps, shows the writing may be on the wall for Fernando Torres – who has been the very subtle brunt of a lot of Mourinho talk all season.
While the manager has been clever to avoid criticising Torres in public, the off-the-record comments that just happened to be made right in front of a TV camera, and the constant omission of the Spaniard’s name from discussions about goalscorers (Samuel Eto’o regularly gets namechecked here), is telling.
If the Matic transfer is representative of how things now work at Chelsea, one has to expect Mourinho has already gone to the club with a list of two or three striking options for the summer.
Mourinho is clear Chelsea have plenty of cash to play with, as Matic was funded by the sale of Kevin De Bruyne, and the Juan Mata money is presently considered a surplus.
The manager could barely be clearer that a new striker is sought – and few would bet against Diego Costa being the most expensive name on that shortlist.
I again asked Mourinho at the weekend about his desperation for a 25+ goal a season man, and he gave a typically calm and considered response.
“If you can have that and add it to the good squad we have and team we’re building, it will be a plus and give us a chance to be stronger and win more matches,” he said.
Chelsea seem almost certain to start next season with a big name striker. And it seems more and more likely that big name will not be ‘Torres’.