February 02, 2015

WOLFSBURG, Germany (AP) World Cup winner Andre Schuerrle has returned to the Bundesliga to join Wolfsburg from Chelsea.

Wolfsburg confirmed the deal with the English Premier League leader late Monday, shortly before the transfer deadline expired in Germany.

The signing of the 24-year-old Germany attacking midfielder underscores Wolfsburg's ambition to become Bayern Munich's closest challenger in the Bundesliga and a permanent contender in the Champions League. Wolfsburg stunned Bayern 4-1 to kick off the second half of the season on Friday to deal the defending champion its first defeat.

Schuerrle signed through 2019, Wolfsburg said.

Details of the deal were not disclosed, but German media speculated that Wolfsburg paid a club record 30 million euros ($34 million) for Schuerrle.

Wolfsburg director Klaus Allofs said earlier in the day that the deal was being delayed by haggling over money, without mentioning any sums.

Wolfsburg is sponsored by Germany's biggest car maker and is already under a probe by UEFA over financial fair play.

The previous club record belonged to Belgian midfielder Kevin de Bruyne, who also arrived from Chelsea, for a reported 22 million euros ($25 million) in January 2014.

Wolfsburg allowed Croatian veteran striker Ivica Olic to return to former club Hamburger SV on Friday.

Schuerrle joined Chelsea in 2013 from Bayer Leverkusen, where he contributed 18 goals and set up 13 more in 65 league games over two seasons, yet failed to live up to expectations after his breakthrough at Mainz.

Schuerrle scored 18 goals across all competitions in his year and a half at Stamford Bridge, but never established himself as a regular under Jose Mourinho and was often used as an impact substitute.

His biggest contribution this season was scoring against Manchester City in a 1-1 draw with Chelsea's Premier League title rival in September.

Schuerrle has 17 goals in 42 appearances for Germany. He scored three goals as Germany won the World Cup title in Brazil last year and set up the winner over Argentina in the final, scored by Mario Goetze.

Meanwhile, Mainz said it was sending forward Filip Djuricic to Southampton on loan until the end of the season.

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