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Matic can be Chelsea's toffee penny

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By Bradley King

Monday 13 January 2014

In the weeks after Christmas, it's challenging to avoid the cruel temptations of the Quality Street tins left lurking around the home. Sadly, most are already filled with sewing paraphernalia, but within those that do still act as a home to confectionery, only the unfancied ones remain untouched. Who genuinely fancies a coconut ├ęclair? Beggars can't be choosers.

As heavy-handed as the comparison may be, Chelsea's midfield make-up is akin to an early calendar year Quality Street tin - and not because it's crammed with needles and thread.

With manager Jose Mourinho only trusting the reliable Ramires (the universally-admired green triangle - OK, that's enough of that) to carry out his uncomplicated duties with consistency and competence, Frank Lampard, John Obi Mikel and Michael Essien have been swapped around frequently, with none convincing the Blues boss that they're the answer.

Nemanja Matic playing against Chelsea in the 2012 Europa League final

As a result, Mourinho has been widely tipped to strengthen his squad this winter by purchasing a new midfielder. The weekend's newspaper rumours appear to suggest that the club are on the verge of re-signing the commanding Nemanja Matic, who was in west London for two seasons before leaving for Benfica in 2011.

That deal was a makeweight as David Luiz headed the other way, and while Luiz has provided cover in the centre of the park with varying levels of success over the past few years, it's palpable that Chelsea are in need of a specialist. When compared with title rivals Manchester City for example, Mourinho's midfielders make fewer successful tackles and interceptions than Manuel Pellegrini's side.

For a man his size, Matic also offers athleticism around the pitch - a great asset in halting opposition attacks. An indispensable cog in the Benfica side which finished one point behind serial Portuguese champions Porto in the Primeira Liga last season, the Serbian's talents have not gone unnoticed, with Manchester United also circling with interest.

Nemanja Matic in one of his three Chelsea appearances

At only 25-years-old, he's also an excellent age. With Lampard in the twilight of his career and Essien's performance levels dwindling, he could prove to be the perfect counter-balance at the core of the Chelsea side.

Much has been written about how Chelsea could do with an extra striker in January. But with Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto'o and Demba Ba all on the books, depth is not an issue up front. And while most Blues fans would agree that an improvement on the current set of poachers is a must, will frontmen of the required level be available in January? It's hugely improbable.

In contrast, it will prove to be a much shrewder move to invest in the spine of the team, where vulnerabilities have been exposed too often over the campaign so far. The addition of the massive, imposing Matic could help bring the Premier League title to Stamford Bridge. In doing so, he can shine in his role as the toffee penny at Chelsea.

See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Chelsea v Man Utd

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