Chelsea have completed their first major signing of the January transfer window, with Nemanja Matić rejoining the club after leaving Stamford Bridge for Benfica in 2011. José Mourinho brought the Serbian midfielder back from Portugal after the 25-year-old had a profound effect playing in the Liga Zon Sagres, where Matić has become admired by fans and pundits alike. After impressing again this season, several clubs were reported to be in for the Serbian international, including Manchester City and United, along with Chelsea.
The defensive midfielder first signed for Chelsea in 2009 - back when he was playing for Slovakian side MFK Košice - for around £1.5 million. Then-manager Carlo Ancelotti had high hopes for the Serbian, but he failed to really live up to his standards, making just two league appearances in two-and-a-half years at The Pensioners. This time did include a productive loan spell in Holland with Vitesse, during which Matić played 27 times in the league. But even with this time taken into account, he could perhaps have made more of his first spell in London.
The former Partizan Belgrade youth player was eventually shipped out of Chelsea in January 2011, to Benfica. He was included in a part-exchange deal with the Lisbon club for David Luiz, a player now a fan-favorite at Stamford Bridge. Along with the midfielder, about £21 million was included in this deal. However, after improving heavily as a player in Portugal’s capital, it seems Matić is ready for a second stab at playing for The Blues.
Despite his spell in Portugal not being littered with trophies – mainly down to the dominance of Porto in recent seasons – Matić has garnered much praise for his efforts in Portugal’s top flight. Last season, when he nearly helped Benfica to a league title against their bitter rivals, the Serbian midfielder was crowned as the Primeira Liga Player of the Year, a well-deserved honor for the player. Matić has managed to leave Portugal on a high, with his last game for Benfica coming in a 2-0 victory over Porto in the league.
Winning this award saw him manage to capture the eyes of many big clubs, however Chelsea were the ones to win the race for his signature. It is rumored that the fee is somewhere around £22 million, a price-tag seemingly justified in the three years since the player’s departure from London in 2011. The club have confirmed that the Serb underwent a medical on Wednesday, before putting pen-to-paper on a five-and-a-half year deal with Chelsea. He could make his second debut for The Blues in their vital clash with Manchester United on Sunday.