And so David Luiz departs English football. Most in the stands at Stamford Bridge will have been happy to see him go. Those who saw colour, adventure and quality in Luiz in the generally grey tactical taste of Jose Mourinho will remain quiet so as not to ruffle too many feathers.
But above all, English football has lost a genuine character, both on and off the pitch, and it will be to Paris and Ligue 1’s gain.
What is without dispute, though, is that Chelsea have won this particular transfer battle. They’ve made themselves look shrewd and sensible in the face of senseless profligacy from Paris-Saint Germain. Chelsea are taking Financial Fair Play seriously – as we assumed they would before it really kicked into gear; their contemporaries in Paris have just stuck two fingers up at Michel Platini and his mates in Switzerland who are attempting to derail their designs on the European Cup.
It’s becoming a theme now at Stamford Bridge, and one that those in the club’s hierarchy can feel quite proud of. In fact, so should the fans. Selling in order to buy isn’t a ridiculous concept. It benefits everyone, even if that ideal is distorted somewhat by Uefa’s structuring and explanation of ‘fair play.’ Principally it means no one club, or concentration of clubs, can gather up all the talent. Uefa’s ruling means lesser clubs have very little chance of bettering themselves unless organic means are adopted.
But back to Chelsea. David Luiz’s sale – said to be between 40 and 50 million euros – looks to be the first major, profit-making sale of the summer. Romelu Lukaku will follow the Brazilian’s lead out the door, and Chelsea will pocket a handsome sum. Add that to the income generated from Juan Mata and Kevin De Bruyne’s sales and the club have already hit the £100 million-mark. The club have fattened up a few already high-value assets and begun the process of trading them for more desirable commodities (at least to Mourinho).
The club need a centre-forward, though more than likely a second to go along with Diego Costa, as well as a left-back and maybe another centre-back, though that isn’t absolutely pressing at this time with John Terry still good for another year, Branislav Ivanovic versatile, and Kurt Zouma on his way.
Chelsea are complying and being extraordinarily and uncharacteristically smart about it. They’ve sold three unwanted players in the past six months to teams who they knew would be desperate to buy. Manchester United needed Juan Mata, or anyone of that calibre to assure fans the dip in form was under control. Wolfsburg are building a very strong team in Germany and De Bruyne, having impressed while on loan at Werder Bremen, was seen as an opportunity to further strengthen. And as for PSG, well they have no need for Luiz, they just required him as their riposte to the attempted subjugation from Uefa.
And PSG’s wastefulness really shouldn’t be overlooked. A year on from purchasing 20-year-old Marquinhos from Roma for €32 million, they’ve now gone and spent even more on a 27-year-old while Thiago Silva is 29 himself (30 in September), and Alex, who was initially thought to be leaving due to his expired contract, is 31 (32 next month) and will now stay on.
To balance out the signing of Luiz, it’s reported that PSG will sell Marquinhos, likely to Barcelona. But that’s not a good piece of business on their part. In the young Brazilian they had a centre-back who could take over from Silva in the future and share the load now. Instead, they’ll have to buy another replacement centre-back at some point in the next year-to-eighteen months, while simultaneously battling Uefa on another front.
So once again Chelsea should be acknowledged and commended. It’s not to say they haven’t been guilty of setting fire to mountains of cash themselves, but they’re making an attempt to set themselves straight. And they’re doing a bloody good job of it.