Gary Neville has heaped praise on Jose Mourinho for securing the services of Nemanja Matic at Manchester United, noting that his presence will do wonders for Paul Pogba.
The Serbian became Mourinho’s third signing of the transfer window after Man United finally prized him away from a reluctant Antonio Conte for a fee of £40.
And he has already displayed why he has won two Premier League titles in three years at Chelsea, producing a commanding display against Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup.
Speaking on Sky Sports, Neville insisted that Matic will be valuable for when it comes to giving Pogba more attacking freedom this season.
“Every time we watched Pogba last season it was, ‘Where do you play him?’ Now there is no excuse,” he said.
“He has somebody in there that will fill the holes when he vacates them, he has licence to go wherever he wants and he [Matic] will provide that stability for the back four. “Of all the signings United have made, Matic is the best one.
“Last season [Pogba] reminded me at times of when United signed Juan Sebastian Veron.
“He was a brilliant midfield player, one of the best in the world, but he kept chasing the ball and vacating areas. That is difficult to play with and Pogba was like that last year.”
You can see the important impact made by Matic at United before he even touches the ball. The midfielder is often praised for his strength and passing range, but the keystone to his brilliance is the way in which he positions himself, and how that opens things up further forward.
He is not, funnily enough, the fastest customer but he atones for this by cleverly and subtly filling the gaps in defensive midfield and ensuring he always has an avenue through which to advance the ball. This talent, you sense, will not only help Pogba, but indeed United’s attacking frontier as a whole.