Nemanja Matic has made it clear that he doesn’t care what kind of reception he receives from the Stamford Bridge faithful this weekend when he makes his first return to West London since joining Manchester United over the summer.
The Serbian, much to the dismay of Antonio Conte, reunited with Jose Mourinho over the summer at Man United, signing for a £40m fee.
And he has hardly put a foot wrong, producing an endless stream of indomitable displays at the base of midfield.
When asked about his return to Stamford Bridge, Matic made it clear that he wasn’t expecting a sentimental return of any kind.
“I feel when I played there, I showed them my quality,” he said. “We won the title twice and also two cups, so I don’t have to prove to them anything. I just have to prove something to my new club.”
“I don’t know [what recepetion I’ll get]. When I played there I always gave 100%. I’m sure they respect that but if not I don’t really care.”
There can often be element of enforced cordiality when it comes to players returning to old clubs, as if to maintain the amicability that defined their departure elsewhere.
This is not always the case, of course: Luis Figo, Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie all serve as famous examples. But Matic doesn’t fall into this category.
The 29-year-old always worked hard at Chelsea, never expressed any form of discontent, and moved to United in light of Antonio Conte’s decision to bring in Tiemoue Bakayoko and Danny Drinkwater.
And yet, you sense that the sight of seeing Matic in a United shirt will stir Chelsea fans to their very core. But any anger towards him on Sunday is in actual fact meant for the club at large for letting this happen.
Matic, either way, doesn’t care about any of this sideshow nonsense. He is here to do a job rather than pandering to any pantomime villain rhetoric.