Jose Mourinho has already begun chopping and changing since his arrival in Manchester. The former Chelsea boss took over the reins from Louis van Gaal for the upcoming season and has already added three quality players to his squad.
Zlatan Ibrahimović, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Eric Bailly have already been confirmed signings and the Portuguese now looks to strengthen his squad further. The ageing Michael Carrick and Bastian Schweinsteiger, along with the inconsistent Marouane Fellaini, all appear set to lose their place in United’s starting XI, if not the squad itself.
With a number of players expected to depart the club, Mourinho is in the hunt for top quality midfielders and has been heavily linked to Chelsea’s Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas. The 53-year-old has a history of signing players from his former clubs and the arrival of Ibrahimović is just another example of that, after the duo formerly worked together at Inter Milan.
Both Matic and Fabregas played key roles in Chelsea’s title winning campaignin 2014-15 but failed to impress in the previous campaign, although there was a slight improvement from the latter towards the end of the season.
Matic returned to th Blues following a spell with Benfica and quickly cemented a first-team spot under Jose Mourinho. The Serbian was arguably the best defensive-midfielder in the league when his side lifted the league title, but looked a completely different player in 2015-16. After a series of poor performances in the first-half of the season, Matic lost his place in the starting lineup to Guus Hiddink favourite Jon Obi Mikel and has struggled to get back in since. The 27-year-old undoubtedly still has a lot to offer and should not be undervalued based on one poor campaign. It is doubtful that Mikel would continue in midfield, as Chelsea have confirmed the signing of N’Golo Kante from Leicester, or may look to resurrect Matic’s form with the tutelage of Antonio Conte.
Fabregas’s form last season fluctuated more often than Eden Hazard found the net for Chelsea. The Spaniard enjoyed a fantastic first season with the Blues, recording 18 assists along with three goals in the league. Although, like Matic and a lot of other Chelsea players, last season saw the 29-year-old’s form fall as the Blues ended the campaign in a disappointing 10th position. Fabregas did play to usual best on a number of occasions, especially during the final part of the season, but good performances came few and far from the former Barcelona man.
After sacking Mourinho less than a year ago, Chelsea have also appointed a new manager in the form of Antonio Conte, who only recently took charge of the squad. The Italian has signed two players, but as of now and there is no clear indication as to whether he plans a squad overhaul or chooses to stick with majority of the current bunch. It will be interesting to see if Chelsea will allow Fabregas and/or Matic to join rivals Manchester United, considering that Stamford Bridge fan favourite Mourinho has also followed the same path.
The Red Devils, on the other hand, will be glad to take the midfielders of Chelsea’s hands as Mourinho looks forward to yet another successful season in English football.