This article forms part of our Total Duds feature series, which is where Football Transfer Tavern takes a look at a player who disappointed after being signed, using statistical figures and statements from pundits to illustrate how ill-judged the transfer decision has been.
He may have had a successful time in English football, but Nemanja Matic (who has recently been linked with Inter Milan) has certainly seen his Premier League career take a downward turn since his move to Manchester United.
And for £40m (per BBC Sport), his price tag may not only disappoint him, but his club, too.
Given where United were when he joined – finishing in sixth place during their first season under the control of Jose Mourinho, off the back of winning the League Cup and Europa League – it is surely a shortcoming of the club that they have not been able to utilise his services to bring subsequent success.
While his first season saw the Red Devils achieve a 2nd-place finish in the Premier League, the Serbian is yet to win silverware since making the move from then-champions Chelsea in 2017, and having endured a testing campaign in which Mourinho was relieved of his duties, the midfielder now struggles to get into a team where youngsters such as Scott McTominay have now taken his position in the starting XI.
Although Matic played 28 times in the Premier League last season in a campaign in which injuries saw him feature sporadically towards the end of the year, the current one has seen the 31-year-old included just three times, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer preferring the likes of McTominay and Fred in recent weeks.
Two years on from his transfer, and Manchester United look no closer to the title which Matic had won three times at Chelsea – with the Red Devils in seventh place following their win over Norwich City last weekend.
And despite United potentially getting back into form having been denied victory over European champions Liverpool in the previous week, Matic has had no part to play in any of the team’s last five fixtures, which leaves his Old Trafford future looking bleak having achieved little since swapping a blue shirt for a red one.
In essence, United have bought a proven title winner and got nothing in return.
It has been a poor deal from both parties’ perspectives, partly perhaps because of timing (the height of United’s recent success was prior to Matic’s arrival) and circumstances mainly out of the Serb’s control (Mourinho’s sacking and injuries).
Though irrespective of who is to blame, the fact of the matter seems to be that United’s pricey punt on Matic has yet to be justified from neither a financial nor footballing point of view.
Manchester United fans, do you think Matic deserves a place in the starting XI? What has prevented him from being more successful at Old Trafford? Let us know in the comments below!
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