CHELSEA are closing in on the £21m signing of midfielder Nemanja Matic, less than three years after his departure from Stamford Bridge.
The 25-year-old was used as a makeweight in the £21m deal to sign central defender David Luiz from Benfica in August 2011.
But the Serbian has since shot to prominence and was named the Primeira Liga player of the year after helping his club reach the Europa League final last season.
Benfica currently top the Primeira Liga and Matic’s form has caught the eye of Blues boss Jose Mourinho, looking to strengthen his defensive midfield options, an area of the team he has continually tinkered with since Marco van Ginkel was sidelined by a long-term medial knee ligament injury in September.
And Chelsea look set to make room in their squad for Matic with Kevin De Bruyne poised to make a £16m switch to Wolfsburg.
De Bruyne has not started a Premier League match for Chelsea since the 0-0 draw at Manchester United in August and last featured for the first team in their Capital One Cup quarter-final defeat to Sunderland in December.
Mourinho revealed in September he “did not like” the Belgian’s attitude in training or his performance in a 2-0 win at Swindon in the Capital One Cup third round.
Chelsea are third in the league, two points behind leaders Arsenal.