In August 2009 Chelsea FC snapped up a talented youngster by the name of Nemanja Matic from Slovakian outfit MFK Kosice for a fee believed to be in the region of £1.5 million. It was a deal that was snuck under the noses of London rivals Tottenham and previous favourites Middlesbrough but Chelsea had got their man.
Just 19-years-old he signed a four-year-contract with the club and big things were expected of the big player; Matic stands an imposing 6ft 4ins tall.
However as many a young player is now discovering breaking into the Chelsea first team is difficult to say the least and for Matic it proved impossible. After just three substitute appearances for the London outfit he was loaned to Vitesse Arnhem for the 2010-11 season and never returned.
That is because when Chelsea decided they wanted to shell out on David Luiz of Benfica the Portuguese side were keen to be compensated in more than just cash; so asked for a player to be included in the deal.
Since Chelsea offered Matic to Benfica in said deal things have sort of fell into place for the Serbian international.
When Javi Garcia left for Manchester City this summer he became the undisputed starter in a Benfica team that has enjoyed a truly remarkable campaign. Undefeated in the league and scoring over 100 goals is one thing but to be unbeaten over 90 minutes in six months is another.
The interesting and ironic thing about this turn of events is just how often David Luiz, the man Chelsea used Matic as bait for, has been asked to play in the position the Serb would have were he still a Chelsea player.
With Michael Essien out on loan and Oriol Romeu seriously injured the Brazilian has capably stepped up into midfield on numerous occasions under Rafa Benitez.
In hindsight Chelsea will probably wish they had just gone with more money and kept hold of Matic for a little while younger considering just how good the giant holding player has become.
Now he is being linked, frivolously, with Manchester United for a whopping sum of €45 million; €20 million more than Chelsea gave Benfica for Luiz; a deal which saw them throw Matic in without a care in the world.
If only Chelsea had them both.
What do you make of Matic’s career post-Chelsea?
image: © Yoca91