Matić has the potential to become remarkably influential in central midfield for Chelsea. At Benfica he showed great tactical flexibility and poise on the ball. Last season in Europe, the Serbian midfielder showed not only an ability to move the ball quickly and with precision, but also to defend well and provide extra physical cover for the back line, seamlessly slotting into a defensive posture when necessity required it. He is comfortable both in a box-to-box role and as a withdrawn midfielder. When playing in a withdrawn role, Matić not only serves as cover for the back four but also an effective deep lying playmaker. He can play the types of diagonal balls Jose Mourinho wants to see more of from his holding midfielders.
Salah is a player that has impressed against Chelsea, scoring three times in four 2013 appearances against the Blues in European competition. A pacey winger who can also be deployed up top in a “false 9” scenario, he offers Mourinho an alternative to the disappointing André Schürrle. The work rate of the German as well as his counter-attacking ability, which was on full display on several occasions last season for Leverkusen, has been inconsistent at best since signing with the Blues. In recent matches Willian has been preferred to Schürrle and the signing of Salah might send the German further down the squad list.
When these two buys are coupled with the sales of Kevin De Bruyne and Juan Mata, the Chelsea midfield has been quickly overhauled by Mourinho. This gives the Manager the confidence to field players who buy into his philosophy in each of the three competitions the Blues remain active in.
Chelsea now have the ability to counter-attack far more quickly than they did with the squad Mourinho inherited, as well playing longer balls from deeper midfield positions. The manager has acknowledged the Chelsea team he inherited won trophies playing a different way than his original Chelsea side did from 2004 to 2007. However his moves since returning to Stamford Bridge beginning with the summer signings of Schürrle, the now-injured Marco van Ginkel and Willian indicated a change in Chelsea’s style. The January window has made it clearer where Mourinho is going with this side.
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