Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic has retired from international football, according to Serbia’s sporting director Vladimir Matijasevic.
Reports began circulating on Thursday that Matic had chosen to leave Serbia despite being named to their most recent team.
Matijasevic, who works as director of the Serbian Football Association (FSS), confirmed the decision on Friday.
He claims that Matic has closed his international career to allow younger players to have prominence in the senior team.
The 32-year-old Matic has played 48 times for Serbia since 2008 and represented them at the 2018 World Cup, but will now give United his only focus.
“When I came to FSS, I spoke with [Aleksandar] Mitrovic, [Luka] Milivojevic and Matic, ”Matijasevic was 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 spoke a few days ago, I called him on the phone, we also agreed to have a coffee if our time and obligations allowed it.
“It was a very nice conversation. He is determined to end his career in the national team.
“He did not give more specific reasons, he knows why this is the case and pointed out that it is time for the younger players to take his place.
“I repeat, it was not persuasion, it was just a conversation. I respect your opinion. He is 32 years old, he had a difficult season behind him, you have to have understanding.
“The selector [Ljubisa Tumbakovic] I also spoke with him, of which you will surely hear more at the press conference on Monday. This is Nemanja’s decision, we must respect it. “
Matic’s days at United seemed numbered towards the start of the 2019-20 season as he showed significant signs of decline and the improvement of younger players like Fred and Scott McTominay led to a reduction in playing time.
But the former Chelsea midfielder enjoyed a resurgence after the turn of the year, with 15 of his 18 Premier League starts in 2020.
He then received a new three-year contract in July, a reward for his particularly good form following the Premier League’s return from the coronavirus hiatus.