By Shikharr Chandra
Ever since the departure of Michael Ballack, Chelsea have failed to find a player as imposing and commanding in the midfield as the German. The most important quality Ballack brought to the table was his ability to play both in the holding and an advance midfield role. His presence allowed Frank Lampard to make those late runs into the box and take his goal scoring tally to new heights.
Chelsea's interest in Freddy Guarin at the start of the January window highlighted the obvious dearth in the squad and Jose Mourinho knew that if his side wanted to keep up with the likes of Arsenal and Manchester City, it was about time he strengthened his squad. The Guarin deal stalled but it seems have they have found a better alternative in one of their former players.
Nemanja Matic was a part of the deal which saw Chelsea bring in David Luiz to Stamford Bridge and the Serbian moving to Benfica. Luiz's signing brought some additional quality to Chelsea's lack of options at the back.
Since then times have changed especially in the Chelsea midfield. The promising Josh McEachran has never really lived upto his expectations.
Micheal Essien seems to have left his best years behind him and Frank Lampard is not really a playmaker and when deployed in a defensive midfield role, he is easily being run past by the opponents. Ramires is energetic and hardworking but the Brazilian is not the type who can dictate play, whereas John Obi Mikel can’t switch play in the manner Xabi Alonso regularly does for Real Madrid.
David Luiz has featured in the middle of the park occasionally though Mourinho doesn’t see the Brazilian as a viable option in the long run.
So what does Matic bring to this Chelsea squad? For starters, he is strong, tall, excellent at breaking up play and equally good when initiating an attack. Matic has grown into one of Europe's hottest properties over the last couple of years and has been targeted by several top teams. He was also named the Portuguese League's Player of the Year last season.
Matic is two-footed prefers and his height makes him an obvious threat from the set pieces. Although Matic does not have the same eye for goal as Lampard, he brings a lot more to this Chelsea side than just goals.
The most similar type of player to Matic in the Premier League can be Yaya Toure. The Serbian might still not be on the same level as the Ivorian but his style is very similar to Toure's.
What’s impressive about Matic is that he could play alongside any of the current midfielders at the club.
Alongside Mikel he will have the ability to move forward frequently whereas with Ramires and Lampard, he can sit deep and spray passes all around.
|MATIC'S STATS THIS SEASON|
|League Appearances- 6
Goals Scored- 1
Total chances created- 4
Passing Accuracy- 83%
Defensive Errors- 0
Duels Won- 40%
In his 20 appearances this season in all competitions this term, Matic has registered three goals and boasts a passing percentage of 83.2. The Serbian averages three shots per game and has been used both as a defensive and in the attacking midfield role by Jorge Jesus.
The most standout statistic for many Chelsea fans will be that in his six Champions League appearances this season, he has made 259 passes. The highest number of passes made by a Chelsea player was by a certain Branislav Ivanovic with 209 – which pretty much tells the story of Chelsea’s midfield.
Matic is clearly an upgrade to most of the options Chelsea have in the center of the midfield. A second coming for ‘The Happy One’ has been impressive so far and now it’s up to Matic to make it count.