EPL

Matic has retired from international football, Serbia director confirms

By Sports Desk August 28, 2020

Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic has retired from international football, according to Serbia's sporting director Vladimir Matijasevic.

Reports began to circulate on Thursday claiming Matic had opted to quit Serbia despite being named in their most recent squad.

Matijasevic, who works as a director for the Football Association of Serbia (FSS), confirmed the decision on Friday.

He claims Matic has brought his international career to a close to allow for younger players to have prominence in the senior side.

Matic, 32, played 48 times for Serbia since 2008 and represented them at the 2018 World Cup, but he will now give United his sole focus.

"When I came to the FSS, I talked to [Aleksandar] Mitrovic, [Luka] Milivojevic and Matic," Matijasevic is quoted as saying by Serbian publication Tanjug.

"Nemanja said then that he would return, but he had some decisions of his own that have nothing to do with us.

"We talked a few days ago, I called him on the phone, we also agreed to have coffee if our time and obligations allowed it.

"It was an extremely pleasant conversation. He is determined to put an end to his national team career.

"He did not state more specific reasons – he knows why this is the case and pointed out that it is time for younger players to take his place.

"I repeat, it was not persuasion, but only a conversation. I respect his opinion. He is 32 years old, he had a difficult season behind him, it is necessary to have understanding.

"The selector [Ljubisa Tumbakovic] also talked to him, about which you will surely hear more at the press conference on Monday. This is Nemanja's decision, we must respect that."

Matic's days at United looked numbered towards the start of the 2019-20 season as he showed significant signs of decline and the improvement of younger players such as Fred and Scott McTominay led to reduced playing time.

But the former Chelsea midfielder enjoyed a resurgence after the turn of the year, with 15 of his 18 Premier League starts last term coming in 2020.

He was then handed a new three-year contract in July, a reward for particularly fine form following the Premier League's return from the coronavirus-enforced hiatus.

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