Steven Gerrard: Nemanja Matic is one of the toughest players I’ve ever faced

by Harry Robinson

Liverpool legend Steven Gerard has claimed that Manchester United man Nemanja Matic is one of the toughest midfield opponents he has ever played against.

Matic put in another commanding display for Man United, facing his former club Benfica, in a 1-0 victory in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday evening.

Gerard, now a pundit on BT Sport as well as a coach in Liverpool’s Academy, spoke of his shock that Premier League Champions Chelsea allowed Matic to join United this summer.

Matic is “one of the toughest opponents I’ve played against as a six,” Gerrard said on BT.

“He’s very leggy, he’s good in the air, he competes, he always gets a toe in, he can run and match your runs.

“He’s very aggressive with the ball and without the ball, he can burst past you with it and he can catch you if you manage to stride past him on the odd occasion.

“Couldn’t believe it [Chelsea had let him go]. I think out of all the Manchester United players I’ve seen them sign over the years he’s the one, as a Liverpool fan, I thought ‘Oh no. I hope not,’ and then it happened.”

The Serbian’s first two months Old Trafford have certainly been fantastic, and for many United fans, he has far exceeded expectations.

Some Reds were disappointed the signing of the 29-year-old, partly due to his age and partly due to a perceived decline in quality. Yet not only has Matic provided superb defensive quality in the side, but his attacking contributions have been vital, too.

Before injury to Paul Pogba, Matic’s influence on the French midfielder was obvious, and his presence has also aided the form of Marouane Fellaini. While Romelu Lukaku’s goalscoring form has been nothing short of spectacular with 11 goals in his first 12 games for United, Matic can easily be seen as Mourinho’s best signing of the season; consistent, commanding, and cheap.

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