The end of the protracted David Luiz transfer saga is drawing very close, according to reports from the Guardian today. The Brazilian defender, currently plying his trade at Portuguese club Benfica (from whom we also purchased midfielder Ramires this summer) was identified as a possible transfer target some months ago, and Chelsea's refusal to buy before the season started may have precipitated their injury crisis in the defence, with every senior centre back suffering an injury of some kind or being Jeffrey Bruma. The Blues seem to have learned the folly of relying on a group of injury prone central defenders, and are spending big in the hopes of fixing the problem for the long run by spending £21.5M on 23 year-old Luiz.
Although Benfica had been holding out for a rumoured asking price north of £25M and horrifying whispers of "£20M, plus Paulo Ferreira, plus Salomon Kalou" had been flying around the net yesterday, it appears that the deal will be either straight cash or cash plus a loan deal for one of the youngsters in need of more playing time (Bruma or left-back Patrick van Aanholt are the most likely). A delegation from Benfica arrived in London over the weekend to finalise negotiations after Chelsea because looking towards Wolfsburg's Simon Kjaer as a backup plan, and it seems as though their last-ditch attempts have paid off: Chelsea have scheduled a work permit hearing for Luiz on Wednesday, and the defender is reportedly travelling to London for a medical.
Luiz is already established in the heart of Brazil's formidable defence, and despite his aerial ability and tackling prowess is a centre half more in the mould of Ricky Carvalho than John Terry, more elegant than explosive, not as quick as the fastest defenders but still pretty speedy in his own right. He's made some high-profile mistakes in the last few months, but he has all the attributes to be a successful defender and his errors seem to be a function of inexperience more than and fundamental flaw in his game. Luiz should be capable of playing on both sides of the defence, although he's typically fielded on the left for club and country, and should immediately be a first team choice for Chelsea over countryman Alex on the right, with Branislav Ivanovic presumably returning to fullback.
Although many of us preferred the option of Simon Kjaer for far cheaper (his price was rumoured to be £9M less than what's being offered for Luiz), this is still excellent news for a Chelsea team that's long been heading towards the wrong end of the age scale. In David Luiz , Chelsea should have a top-class central defender for the forseeable future, and possibly a future replacement for John Terry when the captain chooses to hang up his boots.
The transfer is expected to be concluded at some point today. If so - welcome to Stamford Bridge, David. I love your hair.