Premier League - Matic: I almost joined Middlesbrough

Chelsea star Nemanja Matic has revealed that he could be playing for Championship side Middlesbrough, whom he nearly joined a few years before signing for the Blues.

Champions League - Matic: Chelsea firmly focused on Atletico tie

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Nemanja Matic (PA)

The 25-year-old midfielder, who joined Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea in the summer from Portuguese outfit Benfica, has revealed that he trained with Middlesbrough whilst playing for Slovakian club Kosice and impressed manager Gareth Southgate sufficiently to believe that a deal would materialise.

“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.

“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 whom he first signed for in 2009 before being deemed surplus to requirements.

The Serbian has quickly found his feet in the Premier League and says that compatriot Branislav Ivanovic, who he claims is the Serbian equivalent of David Beckham, has made life easier in West London.

“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!”

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