Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has admitted it would have been very difficult to stop Nemanja Matic from joining Manchester United last summer.
The Belgian seemed to hint at disappointment that Matic was allowed to join another Premier League heavyweight, though refused to directly say the Blues are missing their Serbian midfielder.
Matic joined Man United for over £35m in a shock summer move that happened relatively quickly, while Chelsea brought in Tiemoue Bakayoko from AS Monaco.
Questioned whether Chelsea’s squad were surprised at Matic joining United, Courtois responsed: “That’s not my decision to make. Those are questions you need to ask to the people who made that happen.”
It’s hardly an emphatic denial of rumours that Chelsea’s squad didn’t want to see Matic.
“If a player nowadays wants to go to a team, then he has – I don’t want to say the power – but if he has a strong will to leave and join another team then it is hard for the club,” Courtois continued.
“You cannot just ignore him and say ‘you cannot leave’ because then you have a disappointed player who won’t play at his best. So obviously for us you give a player to another big team, but they are choices that are made in football and we have some quality midfielder, so I hope we can show on Sunday that we are better.”
Courtois attempted to, sensibly from a Chelsea point of view, not answer whether Matic has been missed by the Blues.
United have certainly been enjoying the 29-year-old’s presence in midfield, and he’s been the Reds’ Player of the Season so far.
“I don’t know [if Chelsea miss Matic],” Courtois said. “We know Nemanja’s qualities, he is someone who last year gave us the balance as well. He decided to go to another team, so we won’t live in the past.
“Our midfield is very good, we have very strong players so I don’t know if we miss him. But if you have two injuries in midfield, then, of course, you can say yeah we miss Nemanja because he is another quality player and he is doing well in Manchester.”