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United close in on £40m Matic deal

Serbian could make Reds debut at Lansdowne Road on Wednesday

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Serbian international Nemanja Matic is set to leave Premier League champions Chelsea for
Manchester United. Photo: GETTY

Serbian international Nemanja Matic is set to leave Premier League champions Chelsea for Manchester United. Photo: GETTY

Serbian international Nemanja Matic is set to leave Premier League champions Chelsea for Manchester United. Photo: GETTY

Manchester United are on the verge of completing the signing of Nemanja Matic from Chelsea for an initial £40million.

Jose Mourinho has had a frustrating wait to secure United's third signing of the summer but he is about to be reunited with the Serbia midfielder with whom he won the Premier League title at Chelsea in 2014/15.

A fee was agreed with Chelsea on Saturday that allowed Matic, who turns 29 tomorrow, to travel up to Manchester.

He underwent a medical with United yesterday with the formalities to be completed.

It is thought the fee could reach as much as £45 million with add-ons.

A picture of Matic wearing a United training top sporting the No. 31 vacated by Bastian Schweinsteiger has been doing the rounds on social media and is understood to be real.

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United boss Jose Mourinho is pictured talking on his phone before the friendly win over Valerenga in Norway yesterday. Photo: GETTY

United boss Jose Mourinho is pictured talking on his phone before the friendly win over Valerenga in Norway yesterday. Photo: GETTY

United boss Jose Mourinho is pictured talking on his phone before the friendly win over Valerenga in Norway yesterday. Photo: GETTY

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United played Valerenga in Oslo yesterday in their sixth pre-season match and Matic could make his debut against Sampdoria in Dublin on Wednesday or, failing that, the European Super Cup against Real Madrid in Skopje tomorrow week.

Matic has been training alone at Chelsea's Cobham training ground in recent weeks after being left off the club's pre-season tour to the US amid uncertainty about his future and is likely to be some way short of match fitness.

Chelsea would have preferred to offload Matic overseas, with Juventus interested, but the player's preference was to move to Old Trafford and Roman Abramovich, the London club's owner, was willing to sanction the deal.

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A picture of Nemanja Matic in Manchester United training gear was leaked on social media yesterday

A picture of Nemanja Matic in Manchester United training gear was leaked on social media yesterday

A picture of Nemanja Matic in Manchester United training gear was leaked on social media yesterday

Matic had failed to agree a new deal at Stamford Bridge over the past year and the arrival of midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko from Monaco for £39million this summer pushed him closer towards the exit door.

Mourinho has signed Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku from Everton for an initial £75 million and Sweden centre half Victor Lindelof has arrived from Benfica in a £30.7 million deal but the manager has been keen to bolster his midfield.

With Michael Carrick having just turned 36 and Ander Herrera not a classic holding midfielder, Mourinho wanted a recognised anchorman and he knows Matic well from his time with Chelsea, where the player has won two titles in the past three seasons.

Mourinho's first choice for the role had been Tottenham's Eric Dier but Spurs were steadfastly opposed to selling and United turned their sights to Radja Nainggolan and Matic as a result.

But Nainggolan was reluctant to leave Roma - the Belgian signed a new four-year contract with the Italian club on Thursday - whereas Matic was keen to move to United. Whether Matic's arrival triggers the departure of Marouane Fellaini from United remains to be seen. Galatasaray are reported to be in talks with the Belgium midfielder but there has been no confirmation from United at this stage.

Valuation

Mourinho also wants to sign a winger but United have so far refused to meet Inter Milan's £49million asking price for Ivan Perisic and the Italian club have said they expect the Croatia winger to stay unless their valuation is matched.

United would prefer to bring in Gareth Bale, although any move for the Wales forward is likely to hinge on Kylian Mbappe joining the European champions from Monaco.

It is thought Real will need to raise more funds through sales to help fund a move for the France striker and Bale could be the most expendable of the array of superstar forwards at the Spanish giants.

Asked about the possibility of a reunion following United's 3-0 pre-season friendly win against Valerenga in Oslo yesterday, Mourinho said in a press conference: "I'm waiting for news. I know that he wants that very, very much and when a player wants very, very much the chance is bigger, the chance is bigger, so I think we have a chance but in football until it's official, I saw so many things happen that I refuse to say more than I am telling you now."


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