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Tuesday 22 January 2019

Matic, not Dier, the midfielder Mourinho 'really wanted' for Manchester United

Nemanja Matic moved to Manchester United over the summer for an initial £35million fee from Chelsea
Nemanja Matic moved to Manchester United over the summer for an initial £35million fee from Chelsea

Manchester United were interested in signing Eric Dier over the summer, but Jose Mourinho says Nemanja Matic was always the player he "really wanted".

Old Trafford should witness a fascinating clash between the sides second and third in the Premier League on Saturday as Mauricio Pochettino's highly-rated side arrive in the north west, albeit without injured star striker Harry Kane.

Dier is likely to be among the starters against a club whose interest in signing him is well documented, with the Tottenham boss saying in his new book that Mourinho's interest "destabilised" the England international.

Pochettino insists they have moved on from the issue and his United counterpart certainly feels things have worked out well, having instead signed Matic from former club Chelsea for an initial £35million.

"I have the player that I want to have," Mourinho said of the defensive midfielder.

"Probably I have the player that I didn't think it was possible to have, but in the end we got the player that I really wanted."

Pochettino's new book, Brave New World, also features quotes in the epilogue from United left-back Luke Shaw, who reveals the Tottenham boss used to call him "son" during their successful spell together at Southampton.

The England international freely admits he wants to link up once more with Pochettino eventually, with the full-back even saying "I think he really wants me to play under him again".

Such comments only fuel speculation about a move to Spurs as Shaw's future - much like opposite number Danny Rose - is up in the air, with the 22-year-old having this season been restricted to just two appearances from the bench in the Carabao Cup.

Asked if Shaw has a future at United, Mourinho said: "Why not? Because of his words?

"If you want to speak about his words, I would be very disappointed if his words were different.

"I am always disappointed when a player because he has a new manager, the new manager becomes the best and the old manager becomes very bad - and football is full of examples of lack of character.

"Luke Shaw was just honest. The manager that helped him come to the first-team, the manager that helped him to develop in the best moment of his career, is a manager he doesn't forget, a manager he likes a lot, a manager that maybe one day he would like to be reunited again.

"So, for me, the perfect words that show Luke Shaw's character in relation to the people he was happy with.

"He has a future here, I think he has, but the situation is not easy because he comes from injury after injury after injury.

"He needs two, three, four, five, six matches in a row to play, to make mistakes, to get condition, to get match fitness - and I cannot give him that. In this moment, I cannot give him that

"If he was a central midfielder then yes, because we only have two but at left-back we have so many options that the situation is not easy.

"But he is in the squad, he works and maybe the opportunity comes."

Shaw was a late introduction in Tuesday's Carabao Cup win at Swansea - a match Phil Jones and Eric Bailly sat out.

Mourinho is confident both will be able to face Tottenham, although Marcos Rojo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic continue to join midfielders Paul Pogba, Michael Carrick and Marouane Fellaini on the sidelines.

The United boss has been coy on the impact and timescale of those injuries, so warned he would be the same when it came to the impact of Spurs striker Kane's hamstring complaint.

"Because I know the first question, I answer without a question," Mourinho said as he sat down at the start of the press conference. "You don't need to ask, I answer.

"I don't speak about injured players so don't ask me about Harry Kane, because to speak about Harry Kane I have to speak about Ibrahimovic, about Fellaini, about Pogba, about Rojo, about Michael Carrick, so I don't speak."

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