David Luiz has been linked with a move away more or less since we first signed him. It's easy to understand why, too -- he's a profoundly unorthodox player, thrilling and frightening in equal measure. He's also quite obviously very good despite his erratic nature, and since his acquisition in January 2011 he's excelled at both centre back and in a more proactive midfield role. As a footballer, there are reasons to love him and reasons to hate him, and that dynamic will ensure that he'll always remain valuable and yet not consistent enough to commit to long-term.
So we get rumours. Lots of rumours. And yet, despite a couple of summers worth of him being linked to Barcelona, he remains a Chelsea player. Last year featured the strongest suggestions of a move yet, with talk that Jose Mourinho wasn't particularly keen on the Brazilian, but David Luiz still didn't go anywhere. Why?
Well, the problem was that despite being a crazy, inconsistent player, David Luiz was also both our best centre half and our best-performing midfielder. And although he'd have fetched plenty of money, there weren't really many prospects on the horizon to replace him, rendering that money less useful than the player. If you can't replace a guy through transfers and you don't need cash to survive, it's better to hold onto him.
Chelsea didn't find new centre backs in the transfer market, but they did turn two they already possessed into world-class monsters. We knew the potential was there with John Terry, of course, but Gary Cahill has emerged as a top-quality player under Mourinho's tutelage, giving us a pair of solid, settled centre backs both playing at a consistently higher level than the curly-haired one has managed for the club.
Instead, David Luiz was shifted to midfield, where his dynamism -- especially when paired with new signing Nemanja Matic -- was immensely helpful against good sides. Most of Chelsea's best performances of the season came with that duo on the pitch, and even without Matic partnering him David Luiz put forth some utterly heroic work in the Champions League. The Brazilian might have been evicted from his usual hunting grounds, but he was still a valuable, contributing member of the team.
And yet rumour has it -- rumour always does, remember -- that he'll be off this summer. He's been openly flirting with Paris Saint Germain. The papers have been reporting for months that a deal has been struck with Barcelona, for somewhere between £30 and £40 million. The numbers being invoked are nothing to sneeze at, even if Chelsea's need to raise funds is somewhere between 'massively overstated' and 'entirely fictitious'.
We no longer have to worry about shoring up the defence, especially after John Terry's contract extension, the Jurt Zouma purchase and the continued development of both Tomas Kalas and Kenneth Omeruo. That means that the only impediment, at least in footballing terms, to letting David Luiz go is the midfield. That he's currently our second most effective pivot player is both a mark in his favour and a scathing indictment on the rest of the midfield crop, and a sober analysis of the situation points to the need to upgrade.
And if we reinforce the pivot with an elite midfielder -- the likes of Arturo Vidal, Javi Martinez and William Carvalho are all supposed to be on the move this year -- suddenly we have a good, well-liked player who's worth a lot to other teams but can't fight his way into our first-choice lineup and is unlikely to be entirely content with a reduced role. That sounds familiar, doesn't it?
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