Sunday 19 November 2017

Jose Mourinho 'surprised' to have been offered Nemanja Matic by Chelsea

Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic returns to former club Chelsea this weekend
Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic returns to former club Chelsea this weekend

Samuel Lovett

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has admitted he was “surprised” to have been offered Nemanja Matic in the summer transfer window.

The Portuguese received a call from Matic's agent over the summer offering him the chance to buy the Serbian.

Mourinho did just that, signing the midfielder for £40m in what has proved to be a shrewd bit of business with Matic playing every minute of United’s Premier League season so far.

Chelsea’s willingness to sell Matic, who has repeatedly impressed at his new club, drew widespread criticism – and Mourinho himself has admitted he was surprised to be offered the opportunity to sign the 29-year-old.

"I was surprised when [Matic's] agent called me to say 'do you want him?' " Mourinho told Sky Sports.

"I was surprised, but he's an agent I know well. Normally he's very direct and objective, he doesn't waste time, he doesn't try to get people to be interested in his players to improve their situation at their club.

"Normally he's very straightforward, so when he told me 'you can have him if you want', of course I want."

 Matic makes his first return to Stamford Bridge this weekend since leaving Chelsea in the summer, with United set to take on Antonio Conte’s Blues.

Alongside the added rivalry that has arisen between Mourinho and Conte, Sunday’s match has the potential for fireworks – though the former has sought to play down the clash.

"I promise you I go to Stamford Bridge the way I go to the Emirates, the way I go to any big match. It's a big match because of the opponents, not because it's a team where I was the manager.

"Maybe the first time I went back to Stamford Bridge in 2009 with Inter, then in 2016 last season after the second spell with Chelsea, ok.

"But then it becomes something normal. I think it's a big game because it's a big game not because I've been at Chelsea or Matic or Mata. It's just because Chelsea are Champions and Manchester United are Manchester United."

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