Nemanja Matic has been something of an enigma for Manchester United. At times, he has looked like a world-beater, at others like a passenger in a team leaving him behind.
With a contract until the summer of 2023, Matic could remain at Old Trafford and help his younger teammates forge a likely (and overdue) title challenge.
But, at 32, he may want to play as much as he can before it is too late. And that is where Jose Mourinho could come in.
The former United boss is now in charge of AS Roma. And if there is one player he likes signing more than most, it is Matic.
According to Alfredo Pedulla, the United midfielder is on Mourinho’s wish list this summer and that is no real surprise.
The former United boss likes players he can trust. So expect him to target a few familiar faces between now and next season’s Serie A kick-off.
Mourinho bought the Serb for a second time when he moved to United for £40million in 2017 (BBC).
He immediately became an integral cog in the United machine, playing 49 times in all competitions. He knew what Mourinho wanted and executed his game-plan perfectly.
But Mourinho’s play is far slower than Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s. These days, Matic is usually on the outside looking in.
Starting only two of United’s last 13 league games, and managing just three minutes across the other 11, it is clear he is far from first-choice.
That would not be the case in Italy. If Matic joined his former boss for a third time, he would be the latest United man to head there.
Chris Smalling, Romelu Lukaku and Ashley Young have all enjoyed considerable success this season. The latter pair won the title while the former is anticipating a Mourinho reunion of his own.
The right time to leave
Could Matic join him? It would be a wise move for a player whose game-time at United is only going to decrease as his influence wanes.
Scott McTominay and Fred are Solskjaer’s go-to men, just as Matic was for Mourinho.
United could do with a few more million to invest this summer and a younger model should be high on their list.
James Garner will have ambitions of his own. So, whether United invest or promote from within, it could be time for Matic to move on.
The former Serbian international will know time is running out. And one last challenge under a manager he knows will pick him more often than not seems an opportunity too good to turn down.
That is if Pedulla is right and United get the call.