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MATIC TO UNITED? VERMAELEN TO TOON?

Having already been bought by Jose Mourinho twice before, the bookies fancy that Nemanja Matic will be following the Portuguese to Old Trafford before the summer transfer window slams shut.

He had his first stint with the Blues before the turn of the current decade and succeeded in making just two Premier League appearances before Vitesse and later Benfica offered to give him something Abrahamovic’s philosophy of squad building (i.e. buying world class footballers instead of promoting from within), would never permit, the chance to have a consistent run of match appearances.

Although Matic’s stay with the Primeira Liga giants yielded both happy and sad times as the team won a couple of Portugal’s league championships, the back to back Europa League final losses did enough to impress the rest of europe with the progress made by the club as a whole.

In the process Nemanja Matic had transformed from the skinny Chelsea want-away into a commanding central midfield dominator, so it's no wonder Chelsea paid well over £15m to bring him back. It’s been three years since the homecoming and although it can be said that the former Benfica man had an impressive debut season – should we even call it debut? – subsequent campaigns have seen the fans’ appreciation and patience gone down the drain leading to the point where the stands cared less to subdue their groans each time his slow pace – his biggest shortcoming – led to a mistimed tackled or weak pass.

With Chelsea looking set to replace Matic with AS Monaco's Bakayoko, the bookies probably have it right on Matic - with sport.netbet.co.uk offering odds of just 6/4 that Matic will be playing in red next season.

One player hoping to emulate Matic's new dominance in the Premier League is former Arsenal centre-back Thomas Vermaelen, with the media awash with reports that Newcastle United are leading Torino and Besiktas for him signature. After the Belgian’s time at AS Roma, the Serie A side opted against buying him permanently after the loan deal elapsed.

The intelligent defender, with an eye for goal, is now 31 years. Torino are offering to take the player off Barca’s hands while paying only a part of his salary, according to Sky Sports Italia. If he fights to get fit, Coach Ernesto Valverde might give him some play time at the Nou Camp as Barcelona need centre backs as a matter of fact. Gerard Pique and Samuel Umtiti have not been able to deal with all the pressures of the role comfortably. Besiktas are also admirers of the player.

The Magpies, however, offer the most realistic option for Vermaelen. Rafa Benitez is believed to be on the lookout for an experience central defender, as there ae concerns over the quality of Ciaran Clark and Grant Hanley at the highest level. An experienced player of Vermaelen’s status would be crucial as they return to the Premier League.

The player could be acquired on loan if Newcastle would be willing to pay his wages. Barcelona would be more inclined to sell him but Benitez can work something out. Barcelona acquired him for £15 million from Arsenal but with his performances and recent record the player would go for way less.