Three years after being sold by Chelsea as a cheap makeweight in a transfer, Serbia midfielder Nemanja Matic made his return to the Premier League club for a fee of 25 million euros ($34 million) on Wednesday in what could be one of the biggest deals of the January window.
Matic was valued at a reported 3 million pounds (now $4.9 million) when he joined Portuguese club Benfica from Chelsea in January 2011 as part of the deal that saw Brazil defender David Luiz move the other way in the final minutes of deadline day.
The 25-year-old Matic matured as a player in Portugal, gaining Champions League experience and winning the country's Player of the Year award last season. The performances enticed Chelsea to buy him back for a big premium.
"I am very pleased that Nemanja is returning to Chelsea," Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said. "He has grown as a player in Portugal 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."
Chelsea is third in the Premier League, two points behind leader Arsenal, and through to the last 16 of the Champions League.
Benfica revealed the fee in a statement to the Lisbon stock exchange. Chelsea said Matic has signed a 5 1/2-year contract.
A tall, composed, ball-playing midfield anchorman, Matic will provide competition for John Obi Mikel, Ramires, Frank Lampard and Michael Essien as Chelsea looks to win silverware in Mourinho's first season back at the club after an initial three-year spell from 2004-07.