José Mourinho hails ‘genius’ Nemanja Matic

Manchester United boss says world record €222m fee for Neymar is ‘not expensive’

Nemanja Matic made his Manchester United debut against Smapdoria on Wednesday night. Photograph:  Gary Carr/Inpho

Nemanja Matic made his Manchester United debut against Smapdoria on Wednesday night. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho

 

José Mourinho has hailed new signing Nemanja Matic a “genius” after he made a winning start to his Manchester United career in Dublin on Wednesday night.

United warmed-up for next week’s curtain raising Super Cup clash against Real Madrid with a 2-1 win over Sampdoria at the Aviva Stadium, with Matic playing the opening 45 minutes.

The rangy Serb was a calming influence at the base of midfield, allowing Paul Pogba to roam in a 3-5-2 formation clearly tailored towards trying to contain the back-to-back European champions in Skopje on Tuesday.

And afterwards Mourinho was gushing about his third summer acqusition, who hadn’t featured in any of Chelsea’s pre-season fixtures before his move to Old Trafford.

He said: “A lonely pre-season is a lonely pre-season. A player can be professional and work hard but football is collective and when you train alone you train just as a part of what you are as a player.

“He needs time but (his) experience, intelligence, a genius in the way he thinks — he thinks football. We will help him to be ready sooner rather than later. That’s why today he coped with the 45 minutes well.”

The Matic signing was finally clinched on Monday, in addition to the earlier arrivals of Victor Lindelof and Romelu Lukaku.

However, it has proven to be a largely frustrating and protracted summer in the transfer market for United and Mourinho, he said: “The squad is good and as I said a few months ago, I was hoping for four players to improve the squad.

“The club did a fantastic job by getting three of them, which is very difficult in the crazy market we’re in now. I thank the club. I’ll be happier if they give me four of four but they did a great effort.”

Following a commanding first half at the Aviva United were sluggish after the break, but they ended their pre-season on a high when Juan Mata turned in Anthony Martial’s low cross with less than 10 minutes to go.

Martial was impressive down United’s left, and after the game Mourinho was adamant the 21-year-old is staying at the club, despite speculation suggesting otherwise.

Mourinho said: “Everybody is in the plan. The plan is to have a good squad, not just a good team.

Options

“[We need] options because we have important players injured for a long time. They will be back by the end of the year so our squad is not so big and we need options. We need different players.

“Lukaku, Martial, Rashford – they are all different players and we need everybody. It’s going to be good, to be funny, to choose the team for every match according to the plan or the opponnent. So the squad is good.”

Mourinho also suggested the €222 million world record fee PSG are about to pay Barcelona for Neymar was not extortionate - but that the deal would have a knock-on effect in the market.

Jose Mourinho and Paul Pogba during Manchester United’s friendly win over Sampdoria. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho
Jose Mourinho and Paul Pogba during Manchester United’s friendly win over Sampdoria. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho

He said: “When we paid that amount for Paul [Pogba]I said that he was not expensive. Expensive are the ones who get into a certain level without a certain quality. I think that Neymar is the same [as Pogba]. I don’t think he is expensive. For €200m I don’t think he is expensive.

“I think he is expensive in the fact that now you are going to have more players at €100m, you are going have more players at €80m and more players at €60m.

“And I think that’s the problem. Neymar is one of the best players in the world, commercially he is very strong and for sure Paris Saint-Germain thought about it. So I think the problem is not Neymar, I think the problem is the consequences of Neymar.”

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