Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho admitted he had been impressed with Nemanja Matic whilst the Serbian was plying his trade in Portugal with giants Benfica.
The Special One had looked at a few players from the impressive Benfica side whilst at Real Madrid, yet only Manchester United linked defender Fabio Coentrao made the move across the Iberian Peninsula to the Santiago Bernabeu.
Nemanja Matic’s former club Benfica were within touching distance of a memorable treble last season, only for it all to fall apart in the last few games of the season as results against Porto and Chelsea cost them.
Nevertheless, the Primeira Liga player of the year was rewarded for his efforts as Chelsea brought him back to Stamford Bridge in a £21m transfer during the January transfer window – a deal which according to Portuguese press A Bola, Mourinho admitted betting on:
"We hire young players and hungry for success. Nemanja is 25 and Salah 21-years and it is apparent that we are building a team for the future.”
“Regarding Matic, he grew as a player during the passage through Portugal and returned to this club as a fantastic versatile central midfielder.”
Since returning to London, Matic had made just two substitute appearances before starting to the Premier League crunch game against Manchester City at the Etihad stadium. His defensive capabilities were duly noted, as the 25-year-old completed eight successful clearances and made four tackles – more than any other Chelsea player.
It remains to be seen whether the Serbian international’s impact will help the Blues lift the Premier League title this season, however he has been singled out as one of the reliable long-term players that Mourinho explicitly wanted for Chelsea’s new direction.