Matic had talks with Teeside outfit before first Stamford Bridge switch.
Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic has revealed he came close to joining Middlesborough before his first stint at Stamford Bridge.
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Matic re-joined the Blues from Benfica for £20.75m in January after being sold to the Portuguese club in 2011 as part of the deal to bring David Luiz to Chelsea.
But things could have worked out differently for the Serbia international, who trained with Middlesborough whilst playing for Slovakian club Kosice and impressed boss Gareth Southgate sufficiently to believe he would sign for the Teesiders.
“The club was okay, they were in the Premier League at that time with some good players like Stewart Downing and Robert Huth,” he told Chelsea’s official magazine (quotes covered by Eurosport).
“I don’t know why it didn’t happen – I went to join up with the national team and the clubs were supposed to talk, but I never heard any more about it.
“Who knows what would have happened if I signed for Middlesbrough – would I be here today? All I know is that I am a Chelsea player now and very happy to be here.
“I am 25 and I hope the best years of my career are going to be here.”
Matic has impressed in the heart of Chelsea’s midfield following his return to the club and stood out in the 1-0 win at Manchester City, which could be crucial in deciding this season’s Premier League title.
The Serbian has been aided in settling by the presence of his compatriot Branislav Ivanovic and the enforcer has compared his international teammate to David Beckham.
“Branislav is a very good man. Everyone here likes him a lot and it is the same in the national team. We have lots of young players in our country’s squad and they look up to him like an idol. It’s good to have someone like him.
“We are only a small country, but for us Serbians I would say Branislav is a bit like David Beckham in England! In Serbia he is a king!”