Nemanja Matic has said his goodbyes to the Manchester United faithful ahead of a summer exit.
The 33-year-old defensive midfielder leaves after 5 years, being signed by Jose Mourinho in 2017. He joined from rivals Chelsea and has made 108 appearances for the Red Devils. A strong and imposing presence in the middle of the park, he was a robust player who specialized in breaking up counterattacks and recycling possession. Ahead of his departure, he urged United fans to be optimistic about the future of their club. He said:
“I know that we have had a couple of difficult seasons but I just want the fans to know that, at the training ground, we’re doing our best, and United will come back, for sure. It’s going to take some time but United will be back. Keep supporting the team. Stay together”
The Serbian midfielder received a standing ovation from Old Trafford as he went off in the 71st minute. It was his final game at the Theatre of Dreams. He is in contention to play his final game against Crystal Palace on the final day of the season, where Manchester United seek to secure Europa League football.
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While the veteran departed, he had some positive words for upcoming talent Hannibal Mejri. He referred to him as a “fantastic player” and said:
“I have to say that Hannibal is a fantastic player [and] great character. The talent he has, he needs to use that. I really want to see him in the future and how he will grow”
Another young midfield prodigy who committed his future to Old Trafford is Charlie Savage. The son of ex-Manchester United goalkeeper Robbie Savage signed a new deal till 2025, with an option for an extra year. The 19-year-old Welsh midfielder said that he would be “giving everything to keep pushing forward”
Matic, while being a special player did not achieve the same height as he did at Chelsea. But with the arrival of Ten Hag, United fans will hope that his absence is mitigated with promising young blood integrated back into the first team.