Matic becomes the latest Red Devil. But how many more have donned the Blue and Red colours of Chelsea and Manchester United?
Manchester United on Monday confirmed the signing of Serbian international midfielder, Nemanja Matic, from Chelsea for a fee believed to be in the region of £40million. The midfielder joins a growing list of players to have played for both Chelsea and Manchester. Dami Ugbane profiles five players who at different point in their careers have been Blues and Red Devils.
Mark Bosnich: The Australian goalkeeper had two different playing spells with Manchester United (1989-1991) and (1999-2001). He was a highly talented and rated goalkeeper, but drug related problems were his Achilles heels. He was signed as a replacement by Sir Alex Ferguson for the departed Peter Schmeichel and enjoyed a great spell in between the sticks in United’s title winning campaign in 2000, appearing 23 times. The arrival of French world cup winning goalkeeper, Fabien Barthez, saw him failing to make a single appearance for the Red Devils, hence a switch to west London, signing for Chelsea. He made five appearances for the Blues before failing a drug test which subsequently saw the club terminate the contract of the player.
Juan Sebastian Veron: Juan Sebastian Veron was one of the most sought after footballers in the late 90’s and turn of the new millennium. After several seasons in the Italian Serie A, churning out eye catching performances, he forced the hands of Manchester United to pay a huge transfer fee to SS. Lazio in 2001. He failed to recapture his best form in Manchester as he struggled with the pace, physicality and the English language. After two years, Chelsea, backed by the superior financial power of Russian billionaire, Roman Abramovich, signed the talented playmaker but he failed to repay their faith in him, departing the west London club just after a solitary season.
Juan Mata: Juan Mata whose name literally translates to ‘Johnny Kills’ in English was an instant hit with Chelsea fans following his £24million transfer from Valencia. He netted on his league debut against Norwich City as a substitute, going on to capture the Chelsea player of the Year award 2012 and 2012, both seasons the club coincidentally won the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League titles. The arrival of Jose Mourinho in 2013 saw him publicly declare Mata wasn’t his preferred number 10 heading into the new season. Mata struggled in an uncomfortable position wide on the right, as he constantly failed to perform his defensive duties which led to Mourinho dropping him to the bench, much to the dissatisfaction and frustration of the player. A successful £37million bid from Manchester United saved the playmaker from his nightmares. Interesting, both Mourinho and Mata re-united in 2016 at Manchester United and the pair seem to have settled whatever difference might have come up in the past, the player though failing to recapture his Chelsea form, gaining adequate playing time under Mourinho at Manchester United.
Radamel Falcao: Radamel Falcao joined Manchester United on a season loan deal from Monaco, nine months after a season ending injury denied him a debut appearance at the 2014 FIFAWorld Cup. His arrival was seen as the perfect foil the Red Devils needed in attack, but he failed to sparkle often finding himself marginalised by Louis van Gaal. A return of four Premier League goals wasn’t good enough for United to make the transfer permanent, hence he moved on another season loan to Chelsea with reduced wages the following season. He netted a solitary league goal against Crystal Palace, his season ending earlier than expected as a result of a combination of injuries, poor form and lack of faith from coaches.
Romelu Lukaku: Chelsea thought they had signed the next big thing in world football, when they forked out £18million for 18-year-old forward, Romelu Lukaku. The striker wasn’t given the necessary confidence and game time by Andre Villas-Boas, hence he failed to make double digit Premier League appearance, even failing to make the UEFA Champions League roster. After developing into one of the most feared forwards in England, Manchester United paid a whooping £75million to secure the services of the forward, who links up at the Red Devils with good pal, Paul Pogba and the coach who sanctioned his departure from Chelsea, Jose Mourinho!