Nemanja Matic has completed a £21million return to Chelsea, three years after the Londoners offloaded him for a fee less than £5million.
When Carlo Ancelotti concluded a transfer for David Luiz in January 2011, he did so having allowed Matic to move to Benfica as part of the package. It was believed the Serbian international, who had failed to force his way into the Blues starting eleven since arriving in 2009, was valued in the region of just £4.1million at the time.
The 25-year-old has flourished in Portugal, to such an extent he has been compared to Manchester City powerhouse Yaya Toure. Jose Mourinho was therefore eager to see him return to Stamford Bridge this month, and despite a buyout clause of some £37million, he has been able to land his man for considerably less at £21million.
“I am very pleased that Nemanja is returning to Chelsea,” the Portuguese coach, who could yet move for a striker before the end of the month, told the official club website. “He has grown as a player and has become a fantastic all-round midfielder. I am sure he will become a very important member of the squad and help us to achieve our ambitions.”
It is believed Matic will partner Ramires at the base of Chelsea’s midfield, and in doing so this would allow the flair players such as Eden Hazard, Oscar and Willian to express themselves. And as soon as he was made aware that his former club wanted him to return to London, the 6ft 4in Serb couldn’t wait to make the move.
“I am very happy for this opportunity,” added the player, who was last season named as the best player in the Portuguese top-flight. “I feel very good because of that and just want to say I will give my best to help the team and make the Chelsea fans happy.”
It remains to be seen if Mourinho will give Matic his debut this weekend, when the Blues will hope to kill off any lingering hopes Manchester United have of retaining their league title. A win for the UEFA Europa League holders would see them maintain the pace with Arsenal and Manchester City at the head of the table, and it would also see them move 12 points clear of the champions, who have already lost six times this season.