Now we know why the Union have been so quiet this winter.

Sporting director Ernst Tanner pulled off a significant coup Friday, buying Jamiro Monteiro from French club Metz after the midfielder spent 2019 here on loan. It’s a dramatic turn of events for the team and a player who was widely believed to be gone when his loan expired.

The Union paid a club-record transfer fee of a little more than $2 million, plus a few small incentive clauses. Monteiro agreed to a three-year contract with a club option for a fourth, and will be the Union’s second Designated Player for 2020 with captain Alejandro Bedoya.

Monteiro, 26, was a breakout star for the Union last season. He led the team in pass completion rate (87.6%), assists (7), and tackles per game (2.8), and ranked second in chances created per game (1.6).

Though his loan from Metz expired at the end of December, he hasn’t played in a game since the Union season ended. And while the Union signaled a few times that he was likely gone, they never quite gave up hope of bringing him back.

“We are pleased to have reached an agreement for Jamiro to return to our club,” Union sporting director Ernst Tanner said in a statement. “When he joined the club last season, his impact on-field was immediate. He’s aggressive defensively and very strong in transition, which fits in perfectly with the style of play we’ve implemented.”

The Union’s transfer fee record had sat at $1 million since they signed Bedoya in 2016. They spent $1.2 million in MLS’ allocation money system when they acquired David Accam two years ago, but allocation money is effectively cap space, not real cash.

Metz agreed to a fee considerably smaller than the $3.5 million it paid to acquire Monteiro in July 2018.