Chelsea legend Frank Lampard admits he was surprised by his club’s decision to sell Nemanja Matic to Manchester United, as he hinted the Serbian midfielder was the driving force behind one of the more unexpected transfers of this summer.
United sealed a £40m deal for Matic last month, with the move not appearing to have been well received by Blues manager Antonio Conte, who has struggled to disguise his annoyance in a summer when Chelsea have failed to land some of his top transfer targets.
Now Lampard has given his views on the move completed by his former Chelsea team-mate, as he spoke exclusively to Yahoo Sport.
“I was surprised to see him move to United and maybe there is more to this deal that we realise,” stated the former England midfielder, who is moving into television punditry with BT Sport this season.
“I heard whispers at the back end of last season that he wanted to go and even if the club cannot come out and say too much about that, maybe there was an element of that in play here when this deal went through.
“You get the feeling that Chelsea didn’t really want Matic to go, but players can push for a move at times and that is why this deal feels different compared to Petr Cech’s move from Chelsea to Arsenal a couple of years back.
“Petr had done such a lot for the club, Thibaut Courtois had come in and it would have been harsh to stop him moving to Arsenal when he was so settled in London, but this is different.
“Matic was a big player for Chelsea last season and even though they have sign players to replace him, he is going to be missed and possibly just as significantly, he strengthens Manchester United, there is no doubt about that.”
Matic’s arrival at Stamford Bridge could be crucial to the development of Paul Pogba at Old Trafford, with Lampard expecting the Frenchman who recently lost his tag as the world’s most expensive player following Neymar’s move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain to shine this season.
“It wasn’t a fantastic year for United or Pogba, but it was successful in the end and that is all that matters,” adds Lampard, as he passed judgement on the midfielder United paid £89m to sign from Juventus last summer.
“He looked expensive this time last year, but maybe that £89m United paid for him is not quite so lavish now, if he can convert his potential into match winning performances this season.
“This is a guy with a huge amount of talent, that is undisputed. It is just how he uses that talent in the team. He needs this year to kick on and Matic arriving at the club has to help him. Maybe now Pogba will have more freedom to get forward and people will expect to see goals and assists from him on a regular basis now in the big games.
“There can be no excuses now, this is his second season and he has to produce it now.”
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