Nemanja Matic made his Manchester United bow this evening – and had fans purring at his maiden Red Devils display.
The Serb was selected as part of a midfield three as Jose Mourinho deployed a 3-5-2 formation for United’s friendly against Sampdoria in Dublin.
Alongside Paul Pogba, he showed glimpses of being the man all United fans hoped he would be: the midfield anchor that allows Pogba to use his pace, power and guile in attacking areas.
He didn’t look as sharp as he undoubtedly will when the real stuff gets underway, but his simplicity on the ball showed a lot of promise.
A pre-season friendly perhaps isn’t the best barometer of assessing a player whose game relies upon energy and loves a crunching tackle, but he showed plenty of endeavour in his 45-minute debut.
Hugely disciplined – he doesn’t stray far from his spot in the engine room – and that’s exactly what United need to allow their flair players to strut their stuff in the final third.
There were plenty of signs that the £40million man will prove a shrewd recruit for United in both the medium and long term as they bid to return to challenging for honours both domestically and on the continent.
And as if he hadn’t endeared himself to his new fans enough with a solid display with the ball at his feet – he did so further when he inadvertently struck the ball into the crowd, hitting a female spectator in the face.
He went straight over to the fan, checked she was OK, gave her a quick hug and was on his way with a smile on his face, as were all on the front row where the incident happened in the Aviva Stadium.
Get excited United fans – Matic could prove one of the signings of the summer window.