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Manchester United FC

‘Strange’ for Chelsea to let Nemanja Matic move to Manchester United, says Gary Neville

Former United defender questions wisdom of letting midfielder join a direct rival despite £40 million fee

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 August, 2017, 5:55pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 August, 2017, 5:55pm

Chelsea’s decision to allow Nemanja Matic to join a direct rival in Manchester United is “strange”, according to Gary Neville.

The midfielder completed a £40 million (HK$413.3 million) move to United after undergoing a medical on Sunday, despite helping Chelsea win two Premier League titles in three seasons.

“It’s a strange one for Chelsea to let him go because I thought he was good for them with [N’Golo] Kante and I think they need to strengthen,” former United defender Neville told Sky Sports.

“So I’m not quite sure why they’re letting him go but they must have replacements lined up.

“United need a holding midfield player. [Morgan] Schneiderlien was let go, [Bastian] Schweinsteiger didn’t get a game and so they need a replacement in there and Matic fits the bill.

“Michael Carrick can’t play every single week so they need a player that can come in and do the same job as Carrick and Matic can do that.”

Matic, who turned 29 today, is reunited with his former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, with whom he won the league in 2015.

The Portuguese manager also brought the Serbian back to Stamford Bridge in 2014 from Benfica for £22 million.

“Nemanja is a Manchester United player and a Jose Mourinho player,” Mourinho told MUTV. “He represents everything we want in a footballer; loyalty, consistency, ambition, team player.

“I would like to thank him for his desire to join us because without that, it would be impossible to have him here. I am sure our players and supporters will love him. A big welcome to our new number 31.”

Matic is Mourinho’s third major signing of the summer, following the arrivals of centre back Victor Lindelof and striker Romelu Lukaku.