The United rumour mill never stops and over the summer, a name to crop up on more than one occasion was Nemanja Matic.
The midfielder is in the final year of his contract, although there is a plus-one option to extend his stay, and talk naturally began to turn to his future after Jose Mourinho’s departure.
The 31-year-old was brought in by the Portuguese as one of his favourites, having worked together previously at Chelsea.
With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer turning to youth, there have been some doubts over Matic’s long-term place at Old Trafford.
Some discussion has even risen regarding whether the club should in fact keep the Serbian player next summer or let him go.
But on Thursday night he led the team out as captain – and supporters got to see him in a new leadership role, setting the example to younger teammates.
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Whether some fans like it or not, United need to keep Matic at least until his contract expires next year as the team do not have an endless amount of choice if either Paul Pogba or Scott McTominay become injured.
Although Fred could potentially play in this position if either are struggling, fans have noted that the Brazilian player has had limited game time so far this season.
Although Matic might not be Solskjaer’s first choice centre midfielder, he fulfils an important role at United as a player who can come on if needed or as a player who can offer discipline and experience.
Matic is a controlling and intelligent midfielder, sitting in front of the back four, a style of play which this United squad might need to implement at some point this season.
However, some would disagree with that – and instead argue Matic’s style of play is exactly what United want to turn away from this season.
During his Premier League 2019/2020 starting debut against Leicester, some fans claimed he slowed play down and failed to give his defence line enough protection. He replaced by Fred after an hour.
Whether Matic is to stay at United after the end of the season is another question and it ultimately depends on how much game time Solskjaer is willing to give the central midfielder.
Matic’s contract is due to expire next summer so the most sensible plan for Solskjaer would be to keep him sweet until then, whereby the club can then have time to choose an appropriate long-term replacement.
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