Why Manchester United should keep hold of Nemanja Matic this season
According to a report from The Sun, Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic is unhappy at the club over his lack of game time this season and wants showdown talks with manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
The Serbian, 31, has fallen down the pecking order in Manchester United’s midfield after being an unused substitute in the games against Chelsea, Wolves and Saturday’s shock defeat to Crystal Palace. Instead, Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay have been preferred in the centre of the park.
Nemanja Matic’s contract expires at the end of the season, but the Red Devils have the option to extend it for another year. The midfielder is right to be concerned that Solskjaer has no plans to include him going forward, and is thus exploring options away from Old Trafford.
Nevertheless, United just cannot afford to lose Matic now in the midst of the season. The Serbian joined United from Chelsea two summers ago under then-manager Jose Mourinho. He played 36 out of 38 Premier League games for United in his first season, before getting 28 appearances under his belt in the league last season.
However, he struggled with a couple of injuries last term that has seen him lose a yard of pace as well. Even though pace has never been his forte, Matic isn’t the dominant holding midfielder he was at Chelsea. Even if there is interest from foreign clubs, it would be naïve to let Matic leave the club now.
Solskjaer isn’t exactly blessed with options in midfield having opted against signing replacements for Marouane Fellaini and Ander Herrera. Other than Pogba and McTominay, Matic, Andreas Pereira and Fred are United’s only real options in the middle of the park.
Clearly, Solskjaer should have invested at least in a central midfielder but he didn’t and his team is just an injury away from midfield crisis.
In Solskjaer’s quick, counter-attacking system, Matic is too slow to play and limited with his passing skills. But one cannot deny he is United’s only natural holding midfielder, who is tactically aware, can certainly break up play and man-mark out an opposition player.
The Serbian international’s importance will inevitably come into play when Solskjaer’s side look to see out a game or nullify the threat of another team. Injuries and suspensions will most probably provide the ex-Chelsea man with his opportunity at some stage of the season.
Experience and squad depth are the two most important aspects every team needs to win trophies. Matic is a senior, experienced professional whose qualities will almost certainly come into use at various stages throughout United’s season.