Nemanja Matic has explained why Manchester United are a bigger club than his former club Chelsea, making note of the immense attention the club receives in all corners of the world.
The Serbian was brought to England by Jose Mourinho in 2014 from Benfica and went on to claim two Premier League titles in three years – one under the Portuguese and one under current manager Antonio Conte – before forcing through a move to Old Trafford earlier this month, signing for £40m on a three year contract, despite the attempts of his former boss to block the move after United signed Romelu Lukaku from Chelsea.
And the 29-year-old, in spite of having next to no pre-season, has made a sensational start to life at Old Trafford, producing commanding, assured performances at the base of midfield against Real Madrid and West Ham United. His presence engenders a sense of balance and control United simply didn’t have during their frantic draws against lesser sides at home last season, and the way in which he took hold of proceedings with such elegance alongside Paul Pogba has given supporters grounds for real optimism ahead of the 2017/18 campaign.
Speaking to Sky Sports ahead of United’s Saturday lunchtime clash with Swansea City, Matic explains the thought process underpinning his decision to swap Stamford Bridge for Old Trafford this summer.
“He [Mourinho] was very important for me,” he said.
“He bought me to Chelsea from Benfica and now when I decided to come to Manchester, he was a reason to come here.
“Mourinho was the reason and so was the club, Manchester United, so you don’t need to think a lot about if you are going to come. My decision was very quick and very clear.”
And when asked whether United were the biggest club he has played for, Matic replied: “Definitely, everyone knows what Manchester United is about.
“When you say Manchester United, it is different. Also Chelsea is a big club, Benfica are the biggest club in Portugal. But Manchester is Manchester.
“When I came here for the first day, I could feel that the people at the club help you every day if you need something and supporters are very important for this club.
“After every training session, they are waiting for us outside the training ground to take pictures, to give a signature so I think the club is one of the biggest in the world. Maybe you have two or three clubs similar to United, but Manchester is one of the biggest clubs in the world for sure.”
Following a weekend of disarray at Chelsea and immense promise at United, many have asked the simple question: why did Conte sell Matic to United?
This very well could be a transfer reminiscent of Arsenal’s decision to sell Robin van Persie to United back in 2012 in terms of its consequences for both teams. The same questions were asked then. And the fact of the matter is that, as Conte himself has noted, he never wanted to sell Matic and that he will be a considerable loss.
And the simple answer is that, well, Matic wanted United. They may have finished 24 points behind Chelsea last season but that doesn’t matter. This is United, after all. A gargantuan club. Arsenal and Chelsea are big clubs, of course, but as the man himself says: Manchester is Manchester.