You might have noticed that Jose Mourinho is a huge fan of Nemanja Matic. The big Serbian was brought over last January despite the manager preferring to do all of his business in the summer, and he immediately solved most of the problems in our midfield, emerging as the guaranteed first-choice option in the centre. Matic is great, and everyone knows it.
But it might surprise you to know that Mourinho thinks the 26-year-old is his best player.
[Matic] is the best player. He was signed in the most difficult market. Which is for the players who are coming in mid-season, so the last half of the season was for him to improve, not adaptation, as he was a Chelsea player before, but to improve. At this moment he is a giant, not for his size but for the way he plays.
Source: Get West London*.
*NB: I recognise that 'is the best player' is not the same as 'our best player' but since GWL, who got the quotes in the first place, are interpreting it that way I'm simply following their lead.
Forget Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas or Eden Hazard, apparently. Matic is king, so far as Mourinho is concerned. And you can see his point -- he touches the ball as often as his pivot partner and is far more important defensively. While Matic might not have the effervescent talent of some of his teammates, he's extraordinarily influential, and I'd guess that 'most influential' is a pretty good proxy for 'best', especially if you're a manager.
Also his team talks might have something to do with it:
[He] said that if we wanted to be champions we had to come to these sort of stadiums and win.
-Cesar Azpilicueta. Source: Guardian.
Nemanja Matic, you are cool. Maybe not as cool as Billy the masseur, but probably a better footballer