The 25-year-old midfielder has fitted like a glove upon his return to Stamford Bridge.
Featuring in the Chelsea magazine this month, Nemanja Matic couldn’t hide his appreciation for the experience he gained playing for Portuguese giants Benfica.
The Serbian international spent three years in Portugal, helping the club win the League Cup. Last season, however, was arguably Matic’s most important year of his career at Benfica from a learning perspective.
Gunning for a historic treble, Benfica and Matic ended up with nothing as the Red Eagles lost to Porto, Chelsea and Vitor Guimaraes – all with late goals - in a truly astonishing end to the season.
The will to bounce back from such heartache will have made Matic a stronger person, and reported by the Portuguese press Diario Record, the Chelsea star credits his former club for helping him become the player he is today.
He said: "Coming back here [to Chelsea], I feel different than I did three years ago.”
“I always believed I had the right qualities and style of game to play in the Premier League. My goal was always train hard, go to the game and take responsibility.”
“Perhaps if I had stayed in Chelsea, I would not be playing as much now. For me, at that moment, it was important to go out and be able to play”
"I learned a lot at Benfica - one of the biggest clubs in the world. Not just to learn to play that position in central midfield, but I also learned to play with pressure.”
Matic has since impressed greatly in his second spell at the club. In his six Premier League starts, he has averaged 3.8 tackles and 2.5 interceptions per game – more than any other player in the squad.
With the club leading the Premier League table by seven points with just nine games remaining, Matic is certainly enjoying himself and has thanked his teammates for making him feel so welcome.
“Now I am very happy to be back. It’s a pleasure that I am part of this team, and to work with these players and coaches. Everyone has helped me since I got back and I'm very happy."
image: © Yoca91