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Nemanja Matic: Man Utd close to signing Chelsea midfielder

Manchester United are close to signing Serbia midfielder Nemanja Matic from Chelsea for £40m.

Nemanja Matic was left out of Chelsea’s pre-season tour of the Far East by manager Antonio Conte

Matic, 28, would be United’s third summer buy, following £31m defender Victor Lindelof from Benfica and £75m striker Romelu Lukaku from Everton.

Speaking after Sunday’s 3-0 pre-season victory over Valerenga, United manager Jose Mourinho – who signed Matic for Chelsea – said: “We are waiting for news. He wants it very much.

“I think we have a chance.”

Mourinho spent £21m in January 2014 to sign Matic from Benfica for a second spell at Stamford Bridge.

Matic had been valued at less than £5m in January 2011 when he left Chelsea as a makeweight in the deal for defender David Luiz.

The midfielder scored once in 35 Premier League appearances during Chelsea’s title-winning 2016-17 season, but also struck spectacularly in their FA Cup semi-final victory over Tottenham in April.

His exit had been expected after the Blues signed France international Tiemoue Bakayoko, 22, from French champions Monaco in a reported £40m deal earlier this month.

Italian champions Juventus were also understood to be keen on Matic.

A new challenge needed for Matic?

Matic rejoined Chelsea midway through the 2013-14 season, when they finished third in the Premier League behind Manchester City and Liverpool.

The following season, he was named in the PFA’s Premier League team of the year, along with five other Chelsea players.

According to Opta, he averaged nearly four tackles, made more than two interceptions and won eight duels – a 50-50 contest – per 90 minutes in the 2014-15 campaign.

However, last season Matic won only 278 duels at an average of 4.77.

While Chelsea team-mate N’Golo Kante made an average of 3.64 tackles per 90 minutes – the fourth-highest in the Premier League behind Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson, Leicester’s Wilfred Ndidi and Idrissa Gueye of Everton – Matic managed only 1.7.

United continued their preparation for the upcoming season with a comfortable win over Valerenga in Norway.

Goals either side of half-time from Fellaini and Lukaku put the visitors in control and there was enough time for 20-year-old Scott McTominay to add a third midway through the second period.

After the game, Mourinho addressed reports suggesting Belgium international Fellaini could be on his way to Turkey.

“Galatasaray have more chance of getting me than Fellaini,” he said. “He’s too important.” BBC Sport

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