In Depth

Why Matic could be the missing link for Man Utd

Chelsea's loss is Mourinho's gain as £40m signing fits seamlessly into his Old Trafford revolution

Manchester United unveiled their third big signing of the summer, with Nemanja Matic making an impressive debut in a pre-season victory against Sampdoria in Dublin.

He joined fellow new arrivals Victor Lindelof and Romelu Lukaku in a team also featuring Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, signed by Jose Mourinho last summer, while Eric Bailly came off the bench in the second half.

It is clear Mourinho is rebuilding the spine of the team and the holding midfielder could be the key signing that completes the revolution. 

That Chelsea allowed Matic to join United is a source of "bafflement" to Jeremy Wilson of the Daily Telegraph. "At £40m, the signing of Matic might just prove to be the pivotal domestic moment of even this most extraordinary transfer window," he says. 

"Chelsea have already been outflanked once this summer by their former manager over Romelu Lukaku and have now allowed him to add even more physicality and proven Premier League quality to this United team."

Stationed in front of a three-man defence, Matic "was soon both dictating the tempo and assuming his usual policeman-like responsibilities", adds the journalist. 

His presence in midfield is also expected to help the more creative members of the United team. 

"With Matic as the anchorman, Pogba looks a far more dynamic player," says Paul Hirst of The Times. "His introduction can help to unleash Pogba."

He doesn't stray far from his position in the "engine room", says James Whaling of the Daily Mirror

"Alongside Paul Pogba, he showed glimpses of being the man all United fans hoped he would be: the midfield anchor that allows Pogba to use his pace, power and guile in attacking areas.

"He didn't look as sharp as he undoubtedly will when the real stuff gets underway, but his simplicity on the ball showed a lot of promise." 

Mourinho was certainly impressed by Matic's performance in the 2-1 win, which came courtesy of goals from Mkhitaryan and Juan Mata, and described the 29-year-old Serb as "a genius in the way he thinks - he thinks football".

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