Manchester City veteran Yaya Toure has pinpointed Nemanja Matic as one of the hardest players he ever faced, describing him as a b*****d to play against.
The Serbian midfielder arrived at Old Trafford from Chelsea last summer and has immediately become an indispensable asset at the base of midfield for Jose Mourinho.
His attitude has been consistently remarkable and indeed an example Jose Mourinho often points to when talking of the kind of application he expects from his players.
Speaking in an interview with the Guardian ahead of his final game for Man City, Toure remarked how difficult it was to play against the 30-year-old.
“I hate him, this b*****d! He’s such a difficult player to play against,” he said. “Tall and strong as well. It’s been fun to play against him, even though it’s difficult. He’s powerful, he’s tall.”
“To be able to find an opponent to play against me and stop me, there are few of them. But Matic was one of the close ones who was able to give me problems.
“He can run. He can fall back. He can track. He can fight. He’s a good, good player.”
Mourinho described Matic as an ‘island of personality’ following a mundane 2-0 win over Brighton and Hove Albion back in March, implying that those around him were not up to scratch.
But even when United are at their best under Mourinho this description still feels fitting for a player who, while others charge around the pitch and have ever-changing roles, delivers the same thing each time. He is the team’s proverbial rudder: strength, knowledge, experience, control, pure silk.
His role is absolutely crucial, but Mourinho cannot go another season counting on him to do it all by himself. Another player with similar characteristics is needed to share the load with him in the summer.