London: Spain striker Fernando Torres will join AC Milan permanently from Chelsea in the New Year, the English Premier League leaders said Saturday.
The news came several hours after Spanish media reports claimed the former Liverpool forward would be returning to his first club Atletico Madrid.
The 30-year-old had joined Milan on a two-year loan at the beginning of this season.
He won the Champions League, the Europa League and the FA Cup in three-and-a-half years at Stamford Bridge, but never lived up to goal-scoring expectations after a £50 million (64m euros, $78m) transfer from Liverpool.
Torres will join Milan permanently on January 5, Chelsea said.
The deal does not rule out a return to Atletico in the upcoming transfer window, though.
The Spanish champions have indicated they do not have the funds for a permanent deal themselves, but may yet sign him on another loan deal from Milan once he has left Chelsea.
In fact, Sports newspapers such as Marca and AS and general ones such as El Pais had said earlier that Torres`s move back to Atletico was decided after the Madrid club`s Italian player Alessio Cerci agreed to move to Milan in return.