Jose Mourinho hailed Nemanja Matic as a “fantastic player” and spoke of “trust” when asked about bringing him to Roma this summer.
The Serbian midfielder, 33, is poised to leave Old Trafford this summer. Matic’s contract has another year left to run. However, both player and club have seemingly come to the agreement that he’ll be allowed to move on for free at season’s end.
Matic has been a dependable performer for the vast bulk of his Premier League tenure.
He was re-signed by Chelsea in 2014 after a spell with Benfica in Portugal. A move to Manchester United in 2017 then materialised with Mourinho the manager who signed off on the deals at both Stamford Bridge and Old Trafford.
But with United entering a new era under Erik ten Hag, Matic is one of a whole host of established stars who will be moved on.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Roma boss Mourinho was asked about potentially signing Matic for a third time.
The Italian side have found success when signing Premier League players in recent years, most notably with Tammy Abraham who is already a cult hero in Rome.
Former United stars Chris Smalling and Henrikh Mkhitaryan have also excelled at Roma. Bringing Matic on board would take the tally of Man Utd reunions in Rome to three.
Mourinho chooses his words carefully
Mourinho chose his words carefully when responding to the probe. However, he did leave the door ajar when heaping praise on the combative midfielder.
“I never like to speak about players, I don’t think it’s good for me, the club, the players,” said Mourinho.
“Everybody knows my relationship with Nemanja, he’s one of the guys with my trust. We won together, we fought together in United too.
“He’s a fantastic player but that’s the kind of answer that is not good for me or for the player.”
Matic renaissance in Rome?
While Matic has generally been a dependable performer in Manchester, he has begun to struggle with the pace of the Premier League in recent times.
His last eight appearances in the league under Ralf Rangnick have produced just one 90 minute outing. As such, the comparatively slower pace of Serie A may be exactly what he needs.
Like Smalling and Mkhitaryan, many aging Premier League-based players have found a new lease on life in Italy.
Ashley Young featured heavily in Inter Milan’s title-winning campaign under Antonio Conte last season. His last season at United before moving to Italy and his current season at Villa have left a lot to be desired compared to his spell in Serie A.
Furthermore, few managers know Matic better than Mourinho. He would ensure the Serbian is not exposed in the engine room.
And given the transfer would not cost a fee, a move would seem beneficial to both Matic and Roma.