Nemanja Matic looks set to leave Manchester United for AS Roma, joining the inaugural Europa Conference League champions for free ahead of the 2022/23 season.
Matic will bring to an end a five-season stay at United which has unfortunately yielded no silverware, as the Red Devils finished Premier League runners up on two occasions and Europa League finalists in 2021.
As reported by transfer guru Fabrizio Romano, Matic is set to sign for Roma on a one-year contract, with an option to extend for a further year.
The move has been ushered on by Roma manager Jose Mourinho, who signed Matic at both United and Chelsea, winning the Premier League with the Serbian midfielder at the latter.
Mourinho knows exactly what he will get from signing Matic. Despite his advancing age, his experience, reliability and tactical edge makes for excellent value for money on a free transfer, further bolstering an exciting Roma side that is becoming well geared to Mourinho’s ways.
Some players and managers just click. They go hand in hand, like an old school wrestling tag team. Mourinho and Matic feels exactly like that. Two wise heads who each know what to expect from one another and both strive for the same goal of winning.
But, while Mourinho clearly has his favourites, he isn’t the only manager to have taken a liking to specific players over the years. It’s a strange but interesting quirk within football, and surprisingly one that isn’t actually more popular, considering how quickly managers move around these days.
Certain managers just love certain players. They’ve proven key to how they can get a team clicking in previous years, and continue to rely on it wherever they can. Of course, it doesn’t always work, but GIVEMESPORT has compiled a further seven examples of ‘teacher’s pet’ players ahead of Matic’s transfer.
Marouane Fellaini – David Moyes
Signed for: Everton, Manchester United
Moyes first linked up with Fellaini in the summer of 2008, with Everton spending a club record £15 million to secure his services ahead of others. Playing him in an advanced role, Moyes and Fellaini shocked the Premier League, with the Belgian looking every part a top class player and a unique attacking option.
When taking over at Manchester United, Moyes made Fellaini his first signing on 2013 summer deadline day. It didn’t work the second time round as Moyes was sacked in his first season. Fellaini stuck around, but had certainly outstayed his welcome by the time of his 2019 departure.
Paddy Kenny – Neil Warnock
Signed for: Bury, Sheffield United, QPR, Leeds, Rotherham
One of football’s most entertaining men, there are very few places Warnock hadn’t managed by the end of his career. And on his journey to coach just about every side in the Football League, he took goalkeeper Kenny with him.
Signing him on five separate occasions, Warnock knew what he was getting with Kenny and could trust him between the sticks on a weekend, regardless of any off-pitch antics. Kenny has praised his man-management skills in interviews over the years.
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Peter Crouch – Harry Redknapp
Signed for: Southampton, Portsmouth, Tottenham
One third of an iconic trio of attacking players that Redknapp seemed to pick from no matter what club he was in charge of, Crouch was his Mr. Reliable in attack.
He first signed him for Southampton in 2004, before pairing him up with Jermain Defoe at Portsmouth and then Tottenham to create an incredible little and large duo, that had just about everything you want in a throwback strike partnership. Peak Redknapp.
Kolo Toure – Brendan Rodgers
Signed for: Liverpool, Celtic
Not one that immediately springs to mind, Rodgers clearly took a liking to Toure at some point, opting to sign him for free ahead of his second season in charge of Liverpool in 2013.
It proved a hit as they came painfully close to winning the Premier League, and prompted Rodgers to bring him up to Celtic in 2016 on a one-year deal. He’s since joined up with Rodgers again as a coach at Leicester City.
Salomon Rondon – Rafa Benitez
Signed for: Newcastle, Dalian Professional, Everton
Perhaps the most pragmatic man in all of elite football management, Benitez has found a comfort in a rather physical Venezuelan forward in Rondon, in more recent years.
As he’s slipped away from managing top sides, Benitez has used limited resources at the clubs he’s been at to recruit Rondon, to varying levels of success. First signing him at Newcastle, Benitez went as far as convincing Rondon to follow him to China, and then again to Everton, the latter of which didn’t work as hoped.
James Rodriguez – Carlo Ancelotti
Signed for: Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Everton
Ancelotti was the man in charge as Real Madrid brought Rodriguez to the club off the back of the 2014 World Cup, and it was him who he played his best football under at the Santiago Bernabeu.
When he’d fallen out of favour at Real in the later 2010s, Ancelotti rescued the Colombian by signing him on loan at Bayern Munich in 2017, and somehow managed to convince him to move to Everton in 2020. When Ancelotti left the Toffees for Real, Rodriguez was stranded, and left shortly after his favourite boss.
Niko Kranjcar – Harry Redknapp
Signed for: Portsmouth, Tottenham, QPR
When it wasn’t Crouchy or Defoe, it was Kranjcar. A ‘t’riffic little player’ as Redknapp would say.
Redknapp absolutely loved the Croatian forward. If he was ever linked to a job, you just knew there was a chance Kranjcar would follow, confirmed by Redknapp to reporters as he leans out of his car window leaving the training ground. An absolutely inevitable piece of business.