How Antonio Conte Has Transformed This Under Performing Star At Chelsea?

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Nemanja Matic’s second spell at Chelsea seemed to be heading for a quick conclusion after the club brought in N’Golo Kante from Leicester City for £30 million. As an expensive signing, Kante was expected to replace Matic as the defensive midfielder considering that the Serbian had gone through an extremely poor campaign in the 2015-16 season. Matic went from being a hero of the 2014-15 campaign to being a catastrophic failure last season.

Matic himself admitted recently that he seriously considered the possibility of exit in the summer. There was no shortage of offers as the likes of Juventus and Real Madrid were ready to make a £30 million bid. Antonio Conte, though, convinced the player to stay at Stamford Bridge and he has just not made empty promises going by the first four games of the season.

Conte was expected to use the partnership of Fabregas and Kante as the holding midfielders, but Matic has become the unlikely candidate. More importantly, Kante is being asked to do the role of two players and he has looked more than capable. This has allowed Matic to show a new dimension to his game – the attacking play. The towering midfielder is extremely elegant on the ball for a player of his size and Conte seems to have provided him with freedom to get forward at every opportunity.

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Matic is far from becoming the next Frank Lampard, but he has been sufficiently good with his runs. He has had one assist in the four games, but his most impressive statistic is the passing accuracy of 87.4% even when playing with a forward bias.

Compared with 2015, the Serbian midfielder has incredibly been making fewer shots (1 vs 0.3) and fewer dribbles (1.8 vs 0.5) per game. However, he has been fouled more often (0.5 vs 1.5) which suggests that he is having at the ball in more dangerous positions than ever before.

Matic is yet to transform his foray forward into meaningful goals or assists, but this physical presence of the 6 ft 4 in player will surely count over the course of a season. The biggest threat for Matic will be Fabregas, as the Serbian can never possibly match the passing skills and vision of the Spaniard. Only time will tell if he can hold Cesc at the bay. For the time being, Matic’s return to form has largely been made possible by Conte’s decision to offer him a new role.

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