Benfica midfielder Nemanja Matic has confirmed that he is to re-sign for Chelsea.
Serbia international Matic, 26, played for the Blues from 2009 to 2011 before leaving for Benfica as part of the deal that took David Luiz to Stamford Bridge.
After impressing during his time with the Portuguese side, however, he is set to complete a return to West London in a deal that is reported to be worth around 20 million pounds.
“It was my last game [for Benfica],” he told A Bola, referring to Sunday's 2-0 victory over Porto. “I want to thank everyone at the club and all the supporters. Benfica will be forever in my heart. I played here for two-and-a-half years -- I gave my all in every training session, in every match, and now is the right time to leave.
“I want to improve and to play in a better league, and I want to go to Chelsea, a club I also love.
“I also want to thank the Benfica president [Luis Felipe Vieira], who did everything he could to keep me here but, ultimately, I wanted to leave and insisted on leaving. I respect the effort made to keep me here -- he and everyone at Benfica were very good to me and made me happy -- but, to repeat, I insisted on going as I felt the time was right.”
Matic, who played against Chelsea in the English club’s Europa League final success last season, was in Zurich for the FIFA Ballon d'Or ceremony on Monday night as one of three finalists for the Puskas Award for the best goal of the year.
His strike against Porto last January came second in the voting behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s spectacular overhead kick for Sweden against England, but Matic told the official Benfica website: “I am very happy to have been here with the best players in the world.
“It was a good goal -- it didn’t win but was a great goal in a Classico.”