As one of the rumoured potential replacements at Juventus for Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic's Chelsea future isn't completely set in stone -- especially after a less than stellar season that included plenty of criticism and time on the bench. But recently, head coach Antonio Conte decided to publicly call out Matic's importance to the team and say a few encouraging words with regards to the player's talent as well, perhaps in an attempt to make sure Chelsea manage to hold on to the midfielder even after the acquisition of N'Golo Kante.
As it turns out, Matic did appreciate the words, adding to his new-found enjoyment of football once again under the new boss.
"What he said gave me a special feeling. Like every player here, I have a good relationship with the manager. I respect what he said about me and, of course, I liked what I heard."
"It was a strange year for all of us last season. Of course, I was not happy that we finished 10th in the table but there were many things that made it hard for me, yet I can't speak about it."
"So it was important for me to know that I am a big part of his [Conte's] plans. I have been at the club for two-and-a-half years and have always given my best every day. Until I'm here, I will continue to give everything to the team."
"The manager played football at a very high level and it helps him to know things, to understand us and to show us on the pitch what we can do better, how we can improve. We have worked together for two weeks and I can already see that he is a great manager, with a great team of coaches. I'm sure this team will improve with him
-Nemanja Matic; source: Evening Standard
Whether he's aiming his digs at Guus Hiddink, Jose Mourinho, or both, the important part is that Matic seems to be clicking with Conte and if he was considering a swift exit, he seems to have reconsidered. With Conte in charge, perhaps there's hope of the Spider-beasty rediscovering his true skills, too, and once again becoming one of the best and most important players in the squad.