Nemanja Matic has proven his quality over the past two months at Manchester United.
He has outperformed even the most optimistic expectation any supporter had heading into late December when Scott McTominay picked up a knee injury.
Matic’s performances may not have been as eye-catching as McTominay’s, but they may have been more effective.
The Serbian has been a key part of United keeping clean sheets over the past few weeks, with the club recording eight in the last 13 matches and five in the last six.
This has left it seeming like a smart move for United to activate Matic’s option for a one-year contract extension. It might even be a consideration to give him deal to run for another two seasons.
As it stands, Matic’s contract at United expires in June and the club risk losing him for nothing.
So what’s the hold up?
The biggest consideration for United is likely to be Matic’s wages. The defensive midfielder earns £120,000-a-week at Old Trafford.
One of United’s main objectives off the pitch is reducing the Premier League’s most inflated wage bill.
Ashley Young’s £120,000 per week wages were removed in January, along with Romelu Lukaku’s £255,000 p/w deal last summer.
Antonio Valencia (£100,000 p/w) and Ander Herrera (£80,000 p/w) were also let go.
This summer Paul Pogba and his £290,000 per week wages could depart, and there is hopefully going to be a resolution with Alexis Sanchez and his excessive £350,000 p/w deal. Chris Smalling (£100,000 p/w) could also go.
All of these savings could create space for United to roll Matic’s contract over for another year. It wouldn’t hurt the team.
But the club are also likely to look for a replacement for Matic this summer, who will add to the wage bill.
If we do finish in the Champions League spots, potential signings like Jadon Sancho would expect salaries to reflect this status.
It’s a balancing act therefore for United, and there is a lot of uncertainty with Pogba and Sanchez, the club’s two biggest earners.
Clearly from an on-pitch point of view, Matic is more important right now than either.
Extending his deal could even give United freedom to sell Matic this summer anyway if a replacement is brought in.
It should be a straightforward footballing decision to keep the Serbian for an extra year, but his wages make it a little more complex, and are likely to be the main reason for the club’s delay.
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