Jose Mourinho insists that he would not have allowed Nemanja Matic to leave for Benfica if he had been Chelsea manager at the time.
The 26-year-old joined the Portuguese club as part of the deal that brought David Luiz to Stamford Bridge in 2011 but was then re-signed by Mourinho for +25 million in January 2014.
“If I was here, a left-footed player at 1.95 metres tall and a midfielder, would never, never, never leave but, at the same time, I think Chelsea were brave bringing Matic back,” Mourinho told reporters.
“If, in this world, you want to do the best for your club, you don’t worry and just try and protect yourself from possible criticisms. You simply do what you think is best.
“We wanted a midfielder. We had on the table three or four but the best one was a former Chelsea player. A player Chelsea had sold. But the club was brave enough to say: ‘If we are sure this is the right one, sure he’s the best one, then we’re sure he will be a success here.’
“Now, our team has been developed with Matic in that position. Everybody feels comfortable with him there. Kurt Zouma did amazingly well for us in those two games but Matic is Matic.”
Matic has been integral to Chelsea’s Premier League title challenge this season but Mourinho believes the midfielder was sold because of the club’s lack of direction at the time.
“Back then, this club had gone through many managers in a few years,” said the Chelsea boss.
“That made it difficult for the club to have a distinct philosophy on the table. For one manager, Matic would be the right profile of player. For another one, he might say: ‘You can let Matic go because I don’t like him.’ It is much easier for a board if there is a philosophy on the table.”