London (AFP) – Manchester United are on the verge of signing Serbia midfielder Nemanja Matic from Chelsea in a £40 million ($55 million) deal, according to reports on Sunday.
United manager Jose Mourinho has been keen to take Matic from his former club for over a year and it appears the deal is finally set to go through.
Having failed to land Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Eric Dier, Mourinho turned to Matic as the man to fill the holding role in United’s midfield and the 28-year-old is said to have undergone a medical on Sunday.
United have yet to officially confirm the signing, but reports that a deal was imminent came after a picture of Matic in the club’s training kit was leaked on social media.
“I’m waiting for news. I know that he wants that very, very much and when a player wants very, very much the chance is bigger, the chance is bigger,” Mourinho told the Manchester Evening News (MEN) after United defeated Valerenga of Norway 3-0 in a pre-season friendly in Oslo.
“So I think we have a chance but in football until it’s official, I saw so many things happen that I refuse to say more than I am telling you now.”
Talks between United and Chelsea over a fee have taken some time, with the clubs initially substantially apart over the price.
Mourinho also signed Matic from Benfica when he was in charge at Chelsea in January 2014.
Matic would be Mourinho’s third close-season purchase after the £31 million capture of Benfica defender Victor Lindelof and the British record £75 million signing of Everton striker Romelu Lukaku.
The United manager played down the significance of the photos showing Matic dressed in a club training kit.
“I don’t know because I was not there. Number 31 is a free number. It was (Bastian) Schweinsteiger’s. It’s a free jersey, we have a few free and 31 is one of them.”
United are reported to be ready to recoup some of the Matic fee by selling Belgium midfielder Marouane Fellaini to Turkish club Galatasaray.
However, Mourinho told the MEN that Fellaini is not for sale.
“It’s easier for Galatasaray to get me than Marouane. If they need a manager, they have a chance, but Marouane? Forget it,” he told reporters.
Fellaini was on the scoresheet in Norway on Sunday as were Lukaku and Scott McTominay.