Smalling explains how his Matic opinion has changed since he swapped Chelsea for United

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Manchester United defender Chris Smalling has spoken about Nemanja Matic, and claimed that while he always knew the former Chelsea man was top quality, he didn’t realise just how good he was or how much difference he would make to the side.

However, after United signed him, that became abundantly clear – and Smalling has been speaking about how hard the player works, and just how good it is to have him protecting the back four and also allowing attacks to take place in front of him.

He was speaking exclusively to Metro, and said:  “Obviously I’ve watched him from afar and been up against him for Chelsea. I always knew he was a good player but coming up close to him in training and how he’s performed with us, it’s gone to a whole new level of appreciation.

“I see him working, making play out and not only does he close down the ball but he’s spraying those passes as well so my appreciation for him has gone up a level.

“I think his age helps and obviously he comes from a club in the Premier League so he’s not needed very long to settle in at all.”

Player of the season?

After only seeing the debut Matic had for United in the Premier League, it became clear he was going to be a key figure for them this season, and the fans have already taken him into their hearts.

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While Chelsea are faltering, it must come as a serious annoyance to manager Antonio Conte that he was forced to sell the midfielder, especially given their squad is not bursting with quality numbers either.

Matic at the minute could well be a decent bet for signing of the season, although fellow United new boy Romelu Lukaku may have a thing or two to say about that.