Having completed a £40m transfer from Premier League Champions Chelsea to Manchester United on July 31, big Serbian midfielder Nemanja Matic wakes up to a new month, a new environment and a new year for himself.
Matic, born August 1, 1988 reunited with his former boss Jose Mourinho on Monday and has a little more to celebrate as he clocks 29 on Tuesday.
The defensive midfielder has had the ups and downs in his career. From the unwanted youngster by Chelsea bosses which included a natural loan spell at the Blues’ nursery side Vitesse Arhem in Netherlands to serving as a bait to land David Luiz from Benfica.
Quite similar to the biblical Joseph sold to foreign land by his brothers, Matic’s move to Benfica marked a remarkable turning point for his career. He won the Portuguese Primera Liga Player of the Year and scored a spectacular volley which made the final shortlist for FIFA Puskas Award.
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His contributions were enough to earn him a return to Mourinho’s Chelsea and was pivotal in their Premier League triumph in 2014/15.
An unexpected decline was to follow as Chelsea crashed ignominiously the following season with Matic one of their top stars that fell way below accepted standards. Fast-forward to the 2016/17 and the Red Star Belgrade product played an important role in Antonio Conte’s conquest of England, though unspectacular but always assured in his contributions.
Opinions remain divided on how important a player like Matic can be for Jose Mourinho’s project at Old Trafford but birthday boy Matic, has the backing of his manager Mourinho who declared on the Serbian’s unveiling that: “Nemanja Matic is a Manchester United player and a Jose Mourinho player.”
What more motivation does United’s new number 31 needs to prove his critics wrong?