Nemanja Matić has emerged as a surprise “target” for Ligue 1 side, Rennes.
The French club are reportedly preparing to lose their midfield starlet, Lesley Ugochukwu, to Chelsea, in a deal worth in the “region of €30m.”
Interestingly, the suggestion is Chelsea will then loan Ugochukwu to Strasbourg, whom share ownership with the London club.
Ugochukwu has firmly established himself in the Rennes team over the past two seasons, playing 26 times last year. Standing an imposing 188cm tall and possessing athleticism and strong defensive attributes, the French midfielder will require a like-for-like replacement in midfield.
Which is where Matić enters the fray.
Matić has been “put forward” by officials at Rennes as an option to fill this void.
While the Serbian does not possess the speed of Ugochukwu, they share similar physical profiles. Matić would also bring far greater levels of technical ability to Rennes’ midfield, as well a level of experience any dressing room would welcome.
Having joined Roma from United, Matić has played an impressive 50 times in all competitions, providing 2 goals and 2 assists in the process.
It has marked the third reunion between the Serb and manager, José Mourinho; the pair having previously worked together at Chelsea and Manchester United. Mourinho described Matić as a “genius” when he brought the midfielder to Old Trafford.
Matic’s contract at Roma has been extended automatically as he met the renewal criteria of meeting a minimum number of games last season. However, Rennes’ pursuit may be grounded in a confidence that he could now be moved on at a relatively low cost.
The French club are also reportedly targeting Tiémoué Bakayoko. The Frenchman came “through the academy” at Rennes and knows the club intimately. He is a free agent at present, having left Chelsea at the end of last season.
While Bakayoko may represent the simpler deal, a player of the profile and experience of Matić would be a significant coup for a club making a strong push for Champions League football next season.