After a disappointing display at Selhurst Park, Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic was back to his best during the weekend victory over Stoke City.
Matic made a team-high 88 touches during the 3-0 win, completing 92 per cent of his passes and winning five tackles.
He was a driving force throughout, and made a superb run to distract the Stoke defenders to allow Willian space to curl in Chelsea's third goal.
Watching his performance in the SkySports studio was former Chelsea midfielder Michael Ballack, who can just about remember Matic from his own spell at Stamford Bridge.
Back then Matic was a youth prospect who made just a couple of substitute appearances for Chelsea under Carlo Ancelotti. The midfielder was judged as expendable and sold as a makeweight in the deal to sign David Luiz, only for the club to re-sign him for £21 million this January.
Ballack was asked during his punditry role at the weekend whether he ever expected the club to re-sign the Serbian for such a figure.
"Never, never. It sounds strange but sometimes players develop differently. They thought at this time he wasn't ready for Chelsea.
"He wasn't, but now it seems like he is the perfect player for that position so that's why they spent so much money."
Elaborating further on why Matic is so special, Ballack added: "He's like a playmaker, he's different to Mikel and other players.
"You see the players next to him, they trust him, they give him the ball, particularly in the second half."
Matic created three goalscoring opportunities in the contest with Stoke, backing Ballack's description of him as like a playmaker, but this still was not his most creative game this season, that coming in the 6-0 demolition of Arsenal.
|Nemanja Matic||Chelsea vs Arsenal||31||4||90|
|Nemanja Matic||Chelsea vs Stoke||33||3||90|
|Nemanja Matic||Aston Villa vs Chelsea||30||2||90|
|Nemanja Matic||West Brom vs Chelsea||26||1||90|
|Nemanja Matic||Crystal Palace vs Chelsea||32||1||90|
|Nemanja Matic||Chelsea vs Everton||27||1||90|
|Nemanja Matic||Chelsea vs West Ham||23||1||27|