One of the more interesting rumours to have come along so far this summer is the prospect of Chelsea reacquiring Benfica midfielder Nemanja Matic. It's pretty obvious where this is sourced from -- Matic's reunion with the club that used him as a makeweight in the David Luiz deal was one of the focal points of the Europa League final, and that's metamorphosed into a full-blown transfer rumour.
Now we're seeing reports that Chelsea could be in on Matic for the princely sum of €30 million, €15 million shy of his buyout clause. Is he really worth that much? I'm not that impressed. He's a very good holding midfielder who'd be a strong addition to the club, but for that much money I'd be hoping for a massive upgrade rather than an incremental one. Most of Matic's best displays have come in a very weak league, and although he was fine in the Europa League final I'd have expected him to do more against a Chelsea team that played with all the verve and discipline of a cabbage patch.
That said, I haven't seen that much of Matic since his breakout this year, and it's entirely possible that I've simply missed the boat on him. As a counterpoint, here's a glowing report from PortuGOAL, who certainly have seen a lot of him:
Whilst Matic possesses the strengths of power and aerial ability (which might be expected of the player considering his size) he is also very talented with the ball at his feet, with an uncanny ability to turn defence into attack with a well-timed interception followed by a swift and incisive pass. This helps explain why has been able to fit in so well with Benfica’s fluid style.
That sounds very attractive, although I'm still not sure it's anywhere near €30 million attractive, even when you take into account the low wages imports from Portugal tend to be on. The big sticking point is his contract -- Benfica have a talented player entering his prime locked up on a recently-signed long term deal. As evidenced by the buyout clause, that contract is worth at least €45 million to them.
But what Matic is worth to Benfica isn't necessarily aligned with what he'd be worth to Chelsea. It's actually very possible that both sides get a bad deal at €30 million, because that's less than what Matic's production is worth over the life of his contract to Benfica and more than Chelsea should pay for an incremental upgrade in the middle of the pitch. If we were at a point where Matic was clearly on the way out, the clubs would be in alignment on this and a deal would be viable, but they're out of sync instead. I just can't see this one going anywhere.
Chelsea might regret letting Matic go, but they shouldn't be silly about trying to bring him back.