Gary Cahill has admitted that Chelsea will miss the presence of Nemanja Matic in midfield this season after the Serbian joined Manchester United earlier this month.
The 29-year-old, who has won two Premier League titles with Chelsea in three seasons, completed a £40m move to Old Trafford to become Jose Mourinho‘s third signing of the transfer window.
And he has made a superb start to life as a Man United player, producing an excellent performance at the base of midfield during his side’s 2-1 defeat to Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup.
Speaking earlier in the week, the Chelsea captain admitted that Conte’s men, despite recruiting Tiemoue Bakayoko, will miss Matic this season.
“Matic is a fantastic player, a real top player,” he said.
“I had the benefit of realising how good he is when he’s playing just in front of you, on and off the ball. He’s going to be a huge loss, there’s no doubt about that.”
Football is, of course, a team game and very rarely can a player’s departure mark the death knell of a hitherto successful side.
But Cahill, brilliantly shielded by Matic last term, will be aware of the weakening impact of the midfielder’s departure more than most.
Every Chelsea player will have to run just a bit harder and for slightly longer without the 29-year-old’s bustling frame at the core of proceedings. He is a player valued the most by his teammates, as opposed to their fanbase, and Bakayoko has his work cut out trying to replicate his stony brilliance when he returns in September.