This week Chelsea snapped up Nemanja Matic from Benfica - re-signing a player they let go three years ago for a fee in the region of £21 million and immediately there was a buzz about his potential impact at the club.
For many it was the important role Yaya Toure plays at Manchester City that came to mind as a comparison point.
However, despite their physical likeness, personally I do not think this is how Jose Mourinho sees the Serbian destroyer nicknamed ‘The Spider’.
Throughout Mourinho’s career there has been one position which has remained a constant in any team. It may not be fashionable, desirable or for many teams necessary - but for Mourinho the ‘holding midfielder’ has always been a useful tool.
At his Champions League winning FC Porto side the role rested on the shoulders off Costinha. In that Porto side, tasked with destroying attacks and giving the ball to Deco with immediacy he was a star. When he moved to Dynamo Moscow he was found wanting.
At Porto Costinha was Mourinho’s only real option in the role - but when he arrived at Chelsea he inherited perhaps the best ever exponent in that role - Claude Makelele.
The Frenchman never had the desire to go flying forward but yet was an ever present in front of the back-four for the original Mourinho era - winning Chelsea Player of the Year in the 2005-06 season.
At Inter Milan the role was given to Esteban Cambiasso - another no nonsense, no thrills, no fuss central midfielder with an eye for a pass. He also utilised Javier Zanetti and Thiago Motta in that very position.
Upon his arrival at Real Madrid he signed Sami Khedira - not exactly a Galatico.
However he was a regular under Mourinho and a vital cog in the Madrid machine.
Now at Chelsea he doesn’t seem to have an option in this area that he actually has faith in. John Obi Mikel does not seem to tickle his fancy, Ramires is too gung-ho and Frank Lampard’s attacking instincts make him a poor option.
Matic is certainly capable of charging up and down the pitch, but Mourinho is likely to want him using his abilities side-to-side rather than back and forth.
Ramires can do that - and the three attacking midfielders need to know someone behind them is staying back - squashing any attack unleashed their way.
That is the role Mourinho likely has envisioned for his new signing - and Matic is perfect, if not a little overqualified, for the role.
So don’t expect goals, charging runs and free-kick spectacular’s from Matic at Stamford Bridge - but do expect him to form the bedrock of any success higher up the pitch.
image: © Yoca91