Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard has spoken of his envy at seeing Nemanja Matic join Manchester United in the summer transfer window, naming the towering Serbia international as one of toughest midfielders he ever faced in his career.
Many were surprised to see Matic leave Premier League champions Chelsea for United in the summer for £40m (€44.5m), and the former Benfica star has enjoyed a rather encouraging start to life as the linchpin of the midfield at Old Trafford.
Matic produced another solid display in United's engine room as they eked out a 1-0 win away at Benfica, and Gerrard, who is enjoying life as an academy coach at Liverpool, lavished praise on Matic before telling of his disappointment at seeing the 29-year-old wear the red of his club's arch-rivals.
"He was one of the toughest opponents I played against," the Liverpool stalwart told BT Sport, relayed by Football365. "He is very leggy, he's good in the air, he competes, he always gets a toe in.
"He can run, he's very aggressive with the ball and without the ball, he can burst past you with it and he can catch you.
"I couldn't believe it. I think out of all the Manchester United players I've seen them sign over the last couple of years, he's the one I thought 'Oh no, I hope not' so very disappointed about that as a Liverpool fan."
Gerrard's apparent sadness matters little to Matic, who recently described playing for United as the "pinnacle" of his footballing career. The former Vitesse Arnhem loanee is pleased by how he and his family have settled into life in Manchester, and revealed that his young son's footballing development will soon be in the hands of United's academy.
"The fact that I'm playing for United is the pinnacle of my career and of everything I've achieved in football," Matic told Air Serbia's Elevate magazine. "I really like it in Manchester, and the family has got used to the city.
"London is bigger than Manchester, but I needed very little to make me happy in my new environment – just to be together with my wife Aleksandra, my six-year-old son Filip and three-year-old daughter Tea.
"The children have a good school in Manchester, and I'm particularly glad that my son started football training. He has a place reserved in United's junior ranks."