Throwback Thursday: The Debuts of Nemanja Matic

After 4 and a half years during 2 spells, it looks like Nemanja Matic’s Chelsea career is coming to an end as he nears a move to Manchester United. I look back on his two debuts and best moments in Chelsea blue.

The Serb made his debut for the club in a 4-0 win over Wolves at Stamford Bridge in November 2009. Matic got 20 minutes or so to impress Carlo Ancelotti after coming on for goal scorer, Florent Malouda. Other scorers that day were Michael Essien (2) and Joe Cole as Chelsea hammered Wolves on their way to the Premier League title they would win the following May. The pick of the bunch was Florent Malouda’s strike from the edge of the area that arrowed into the top corner past Wayne Hennessey. Another debutant that day was Gael Kakuta but he hasn’t really hit the heights that Matic has.

Matic was sold to Benfica in 2011 as part of the deal which saw David Luiz move to West London. After a few successful seasons in Portugal, including a Europa League final against the Blues, he re-joined Chelsea when Jose Mourinho signed him for £20m in January 2014. His second debut came in a 3-1 win over David Moyes’ Manchester United when he (Matic not Moyes) came on for Willian in the closing stages in a comfortable win. Samuel Eto’o got his only Chelsea hat trick in this game before Javier Hernandez, as he always did, scored against the Blues but thankfully it was only a consolation this time round.

Perhaps his most impressive game came against Manchester City at the Etihad just after he resigned in 2014. It was a Mourinho tactical masterclass on a Monday night as Matic helped Chelsea seal an impressive 1-0 win. The Serb controlled the game in holding midfield with David Luiz, marshalling the dangerous Yaya Toure and keeping the City attackers at bay. His brilliant performance was almost capped off perfectly as Matic sent a long-shot towards goal, only to see if crash off the upright with Joe Hart beaten. His greatest goal certainly came at Wembley against Spurs in the FA Cup semi-final last season where he sent a first-time rocket into the top-right corner of Hugo Lloris’s goal to clinch Chelsea’s victory.

If the Serb was to move to Old Trafford, it could see Monaco’s Tiemoue Bakayoko move to Chelsea as a younger, more mobile version of Nemanja Matic to form a strong partnership with fellow Frenchman, N’Golo Kante, in the centre of Chelsea’s midfield.