In recent times, Blaise Matuidi’s contributions for the national side have been slightly overshadowed, mainly by highly-touted Juventus star Paul Pogba. At this summer’s European Championship, his performances were overlooked once again as the likes of Dimitri Payet, Moussa Sissoko and Antoine Griezmann stole the show. However, not even Leicester City midfielder N’Golo Kante could displace Matuidi in the centre of midfield – and Didier Deschamps was right to keep him in the side throughout the competition.
If truth be told, Matuidi outplayed Pogba at Euro 2016, he really did. Pogba was slightly disappointing and may have been put off by constant rumours about his future in the media but that’s no excuse when you’re carrying the weight of a nation on your shoulders. The 23-year-old is France’s “golden boy” and he should be able to deal with the pressure and expectation. Unfortunately for the hosts, he wasn’t able to live up to the hype and Matuidi was forced to step up to the plate… but ultimately it wasn’t enough.
And while the PSG man doesn’t set the world on fire, he does the simple stuff very well; a trait that makes him devastatingly effective without standing out. For example, UEFA’s online statistics show that Matuidi had a 92% pass success rate throughout the tournament, with 345 successful passes from 376 attempts. Meanwhile, Pogba was languishing at 88% – with 389 accurate attempts from 433 passes. Ultimately, this shows just how effective Matuidi was at keeping possession whilst Pogba was perhaps trying to force things a little too hard.
At times, it looked like Pogba was trying to impress – but that helped Matuidi’s impressive efforts to stand out even further. Manchester United are currently trying to re-sign the current Juventus man but they might be chasing the wrong French midfielder. On his day, Matuidi is a rock at the heart of Paris Saint-Germain’s midfield and United should potentially consider going for the 29-year-old rather than the relatively unproven Pogba. After all, there’s a reason why Sir Alex Ferguson allowed him to walk away so easily in 2012…
As of July 14th, United are priced at 7/2 to win the Premier League in Bet365’s football betting odds and Jose Mourinho’s men could do with Matuidi’s skillset to give them the best possible chance of achieving that goal. While he doesn’t boast a back catalogue of incredible 25-yard scorchers, he is perhaps the ideal man to slot into Mourinho’s midfield. Just look what he did with Nemanja Matic at Chelsea; Matuidi could be his Matic and more at Old Trafford – IF the Red Devils offer PSG enough money.
But for now, let’s just appreciate Matuidi’s phenomenal performance at Euro 2016. The France man was one of their unsung heroes this summer and it is only a matter of time before one of Europe’s elite clubs enquire about his services. Appreciate his talent before he’s gone; and Les Bleus must remember that whilst Pogba is a top prospect, Matuidi is the real deal. Do NOT take him and his skillset for granted…
Written by Ben Sutherland