Portuguese outfit Benfica have been doing their best to hold onto Brazilian defender/Sideshow Bob lookalike David Luiz for the long term, demanding as much as £42M to trigger a release clause in his contract when approached by a number of clubs this summer. But it's becoming increasingly obvious that Luiz is moving onto bigger and better things, so Benfica are going to have to cash in now or risk losing him for a cut-price rate later. January's special: 40% off 23-year old international-calibre centre backs.
I'm a big fan of Luiz's, both for the ability and the hair. I think he's probably a better defender in the long run than anybody on Chelsea's books, and yeah! Hair! It's awesome! I fully support the club making bid for him in the upcoming transfer window, despite the fact that he'll be cup-tied in Europe, having already played in the Champions League with Benfica this season. He's good enough and young enough to help us stabilise our team in the present and the future, and his ability to link up with the midfield without going through the fullbacks is something that the likes of Gary Cahill simply cannot offer.
Chelsea won't be Luiz's only suitors, however, as Manchester City seem poised to jump into the fray. They have less of an obvious need at centre back, but they can offer Luiz a much higher wage than Chelsea will. If push comes to shove, they could simply outbid the Blues for his services. Key quotes:
Benfica wanted to extend Luiz’s already lengthy deal beyond 2015, but, after conceding he is unlikely to sign, will consider cashing in as soon as January in order to start rebuilding.
-Source: Daily Mail
Verdict: Chelsea have a few advantages over City should they choose to pursue Luiz. They're genuinely a bigger team, have a better squad, and play in a more cosmopolitan city. There are also many more Portuguese speakers on Chelsea's squad - Alex, Ramires, and Jose Bosingwa will all make Luiz feel more at home with the Blues.
However, with Luiz's still-high asking price, the fact that he's cup-tied, and the fate of our last Brazilian signing from Benfica may loom large in the mind. Despite Chelsea's woes at centre-back this year, central midfield remains a higher immediate priority, and Luiz does nothing for the team there. I'd say it's 50-50 whether the team even pursues him, and then it becomes a straight fight with City for his signature.
Keep an eye out on the situation - this looks set to be a key storyline for Chelsea's patching-up effort next month.
The Butcher's Bill
Portuguese right-back Jose Bosingwa is ruled out for at least Sunday's clash against Tottenham Hotspur thanks to a hamstring tear, an injury sustained in the second half of a dead-rubber Champions League match against Marseille. Bosingwa was immediately aware that something was wrong and was quickly pulled off the pitch in favour of Patrick van Aanholt, but there's been no news regarding the severity of the tear.
If he misses just the match against Spurs, that's one thing (Carlo Ancelotti might have been tempted to field a less adventurous fullback against Gareth Bale anyway), but Chelsea's system is somewhat reliant on wide defenders providing width, and Bosingwa's loss cripples their ability to do that on the right side.
If you were paying attention this week, you'd have been hearing noises about Frank Lampard's possible return to action on Sunday. Of course, if you'd been paying attention and had been paying attention for longer than a fortnight, you'd have remembered that this injury saga will actually never end and that Chelsea are just messing with us. Lampard will not be back on Sunday. He might return next week. But don't bet on it.
Alex and Yossi Benayoun remain long-term absentees, as does the entire team's mojo.