Chelsea technical director Michael Emenalo cited a ‘palpable discord’ was the reason as to why the Blues terminated the contract of Jose Mourinho for the second time, with several first team stars believed to be at odds with the Portuguese.
Plenty of fingers were pointed at Diego Costa, Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas as the players whose relationships with the manager had soured beyond repair, as was anchorman Nemanja Matic.
Much like the aforementioned trio, whenever he was quizzed on such rumours, the titanic Serb dismissed them offhand, but unlike his colleagues, Matic has had plenty of positive things to say about Mourinho following his departure.
“I’ve worked with Mourinho for two beautiful years, so that means for me he is always linked to good memories,” he was quoted as saying in December. “I have read several times that I had a bad relationship with him, but it is likely to have been written by some idiots.”
Another dissimilarity between Matic and his three alleged Mourinho-hating teammates is that he continues to struggle for game time following the Portuguese coaches’ sacking.
Fabregas and Costa have both hit form under new manager Guus Hiddink, while Hazard has been afforded enough chances to rediscover his formerly high standards, despite making various remarks in the press that questioned his commitment to the club.
Matic, however, is forced to bench warm for John Obi Mikel, a sizeable sleight to a player once considered undroppable.
Speculation has today surfaced that Chelsea are considering a summer move for Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan if they appoint Italy coach Antonio Conte as their next permanent manager, an eventuality currently priced at 2/1.
The prospective purchase of Nainggolan, a defensive midfielder too, would suggest that Conte isn’t keen on Matic either and that his days on the Blues’ bench may be coming to an end.
With Mourinho looking increasingly likely to be taking over at Manchester United this summer – he’s just 1/5 to do so – an Old Trafford switch could be in store for the 27-year-old.
The Blues don’t mind furnishing rivals with players so long as they pay their exorbitantly high asking prices and Mourinho will want to increase the aggression and mobility of the United midfield if/when he assumes control.
Furthermore, the Red Devils face the prospect of their finest holding-midfielder, Michael Carrick, leaving this summer when his contract expires.
He’s a fan of Matic, Matic is a fan of him. All these factors combine to make the transfer a no-brainer for all parties.