Earlier this week, reports emerged that Chelsea had rejected a £35million bid for David Luiz from La Liga giants Barcelona. The Catalans are desperate for a new centre-back after poor defensive displays in the Champions League last term, and apparently the Blues defender’s gung-ho style would fit the bill at the Nou Camp perfectly, although what solution the flamboyant Luiz would actually provide to an already over-optimistic backline remains unclear.
And that’s the problem with the Brazilian, and why many suspect Jose Mourinho in particular would be inclined to sell. The Special One is known for his John Terrys, his Lucios and his Ricardo Carvalhos, not defenders who blur the line between the ridiculous, the sublime and divine comedy. At the start of a new era for the Blues, albeit with an old coach back in charge, it could be time to scrap a player who may catch the eye and adoration of the fans for his efforts going forward, but has rarely impressed for his defensive capabilities alone and often looked out of sorts in the Premier League.
The West Londoners bought Luiz for £21million in 2011, and since, the Brazil international has contributed heavily to their FA Cup, Champions League and Europa League triumps. But with the Premier League title now the main aim after two years of success on the continental stage, a different kind of challenge that requires the utmost consistency, focus and concentration, it could well be the right time to move the volatile defender on, making a healthy profit in the process.
A £15million return is hardly worth scrapping one of the senior squad’s four established centre-backs for at a club of Chelsea’s stature, but with Barca almost certain to crumble on the continental stage yet again without a proven central defender to take over from Carlos Puyol, and this summer’s transfer activity yet again sky-rocketing the prices of Europe’s top players, there’s scope for the Blues to valuate and sell Luiz at around the £50million mark – not bad for a player regarded as intrinsically flawed in England.
[cat_link cat=”Chelsea” type=”tower”]
So why has Jose Mourinho so far this summer adamantly denied the 26 year old is up for sale? The Portuguese recently told reporters in regards to Luiz’s availability; “If [Barcelona] need a central defender, my advice is that they have to go to the second name they have in the list, because they are wasting their time. No Chance,” as reported by Goal.com
Well, despite suggestions that the Brazilian is by no means a player of the standard Mourinho ilk, the Special One is more than likely excited by the prospect of being the first Chelsea manager to successfully tame Luiz. The Chelsea gaffer would rather take up two alternative approaches instead of simply moving him on, with two possible outcomes.
Firstly, he tutors Luiz, as he has other Chelsea defenders previously, with a high focus on defensive organisation, holding shape and greater discipline. Despite often seemingly lacking the mental stamina required to be a consistent centre-back, Luiz possesses all the raw talents to be an exceptional defender; he’s highly athletic, fast and effective in the air, he’s not afraid of putting his foot in, and comes with typical South American rule-bending nous. Furthermore, he’s exceptional on the ball and capable of scoring goals, which is fast becoming a pre-requisite for the modern day central defender.
Alternatively, and perhaps more likely considering Luiz is now 26 years of age and unlikely to drastically change his personality, approach or style, Mourinho will use the defender’s unique skills set to his advantage. At Real Madrid, the Chelsea boss gave Sergio Ramos free license to roam forward and join the attack, with Los Blancos’ other defenders and holding midfielders expected to provide adequate cover. We could see a replication at Stamford Bridge with Luiz, allowed to venture into the attack but perhaps more responsibly than in comparison to recent campaigns. Similarly, the Braz-fro bearer comes with great versatility, and can perform either box-to-box or holding roles in midfield, as well as being athletically capable of filling in at full-back.
And although Chelsea could stand to double their money on Luiz this summer, there are few viable replacements on the horizon that can be brought in before transfer deadline day. Earlier in the summer, the Blues were linked with Porto’s Eliaquim Mangala, a France international who has been heaped with praise for his contribution to the Portuguese Champion’s undefeated domestic campaign. But the 22 year old is by no means the finished article, still prone to individual errors, and comes with a whopping £30million price-tag, which would eradicate the entirety of Chelsea’s revenue from letting Luiz leave for Barcelona.
Other candidates that could potentially be available this summer include Borussia Dortmund’s Mats Hummels and Neven Subotic, but the Champions League finalists won’t let any more first team players leave for cheap after Mario Gotze joined Bayern Munich at the start of the off-season for £32million – a slim fee considering Gareth Bale is now being discussed with a £100million price tag – and Robert Lewandowski plans on switching his Bundesliga allegiances for free in a year’s time. After that comes the stagnating Pepe, who fell out with Mourinho at Real Madrid last term as he lost his first team place to 20 year old Rafael Varane, and Benfica’s Ezequiel Garay, who was expected to move to Manchester United this summer but has so far made little headway.
Get any lower and you’re either scraping the barrel or taking a huge risk, and the Chelsea manager would rather do neither in his first transfer window. It’s a striker’s market this summer, perhaps worded best by Mourinho himself, who described Chelsea’s transfer policy this year as ‘Rooney or bust’ prior to his first bid for the Manchester United forward.
Perhaps more important however than profits and potential replacements is the message selling Luiz would send out to the Stamford Bridge faithful, as well as the rest of Europe. Since Roman Abramovich took over in 2003, Chelsea have never been a selling club, with Arjen Robben the only exception of a first team player being moved on for profit to a continental rival. The Blues aren’t in the business of turning around their playing personnel for financial gain, and they won’t change their stance by selling one of their top performers from last term to a club that poses the biggest threat to Chelsea’s planned success in the Champions League.
The West Londoners don’t need to sell, and therefore they won’t. They’re not a club reliant on player sales, and they don’t need an extra £25million in profit to throw into the summer kitty, or make better reading in the account books. A lot has been made of Luiz’s relationship with his new boss, but does any manager on the planet have a better chance of getting the best out of the wild Brazilian than Jose Mourinho? Rather than shying away from Luiz’s unique abilities and abilities, the Special One will view him as a challenge, and will seek to unlock his full potential, the first task being to keep him out of the hands of the other continental superpowers.
Should Chelsea take the money any run?
Join the debate below!