Phil Neville is the latest pundit to express ‘concern’ for Chelsea’s title hopes following the sale of Nemanja Matic to rivals Manchester United.
Matic was sold to Manchester United for a £40m fee and the Serb will undoubtedly strengthen the spine of Jose Mourinho’s side as they bid to contend for the Premier League title.
But United’s gain is very much Chelsea’s loss and not only does their spine appear more fragile, it’s also difficult to understand Chelsea’s reasoning behind the deal with Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Nathaniel Chabolah also leaving the club.
“I can’t think of a reason why Chelsea would sell him,” Neville told Sky Sports.
“If Chalobah or Loftus-Cheek were still there they could get rid of Matic and play a younger kid. You would applaud that but those players aren’t even at the club now.
“They have weakened their own team and strengthened Manchester United, who now have a better chance of winning the Premier League than Chelsea.
“United were crying out for a central midfielder with the qualities of Nemanja Matic. He is probably the best in England alongside N’Golo Kante.
“Chelsea have broken up that partnership and strengthened their rivals. All of a sudden United are in the driving seat ahead of Chelsea to win the Premier League.
“Chelsea are weaker than last season – no Diego Costa, no Matic – and I’m concerned for them.”
This summer Chelsea have brought in £40m midfielder Tiémoué Bakayoko from Monaco. It is most likely that he will take Matic’s place in the Chelsea midfield alongside Kante. However, Neville does not seem convinced by the 22 year-old Frenchman.
“Is Bakayoko a similar type of player to Matic? Will he gel alongside Kante? Matic has intelligence and experience of the Premier League.
“Bakayoko has not and I saw him in the Champions League last year. He was good in some games, inexperienced in others. He will take time to settle.
“I think the [Matic] sale at this moment in time, with that Chelsea squad, could cost them the league.”