In the summer of 2014, Chelsea made several marquee signings to bolster the squad up to title-winning standard after falling just short of the Premier League crown in the preceding season. One such acquisitions was Brazilian left back Filipe Luís, who had impressed for then La Liga winners Atlético Madrid, alongside striker Diego Costa and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, both of whom were brought in (or in the case of Courtois, brought back) from Los Colchoneroes as well in the same transfer window.
While Diego quickly paid back his transfer fee and Courtois turned out to be just as good as advertised after thee seasons out on loan, Filipe's spell at Chelsea went in the opposite direction. Arriving at the club as one of the best full backs in the world, he failed to justify his reputation aside from a few good showings. His tenure at the Bridge lasted only one year, and he returned to Atlético in July 2015.
Back in Madrid, he managed to recover his previous good form, helping Atlético remain a serious force both in La Liga as well as the Champions League.
In a recent interview with ESPN Brasil, Filipe reflected on his time in England and offered an explanation as to why things did not go exactly to plan at Chelsea.
"My stint in England was short. Only one year, but it was enough to win the Premier League. I did not adapt [to the league] the way I wanted to, and I was never a sure starter. Atlético always showed interest [in having me back] and I really feel very close to them. I do not regret going to Chelsea, as I do not think I made a wrong choice at that moment."
"But I did learn a lot of things on my move. Especially on making history with one club, since now I have been in Atlético for so many years. Creating roots for maybe one day work there, start my career as a coach... So I considered it all and thought 'I prefer the Spanish League, I was already adapted to them, and it fits my playing style'. So..."
"My initial thought was 'I want to play in the Premier League. I want to live this experience, and I want the opportunity to play this tournament which is claimed to be best' and it is indeed a spectacular competition. It was very good, a good experience. But I struggled. I had to play against fast and strong players. It seemed as if the opposition coach looked at Chelsea's line-up and said 'look, this is Filipe who has just arrived at the league, let's put our fastest man on his side'."
"Still, I had good games there. I was able to lift trophies, and played 29 games with Chelsea. But I am happier in Spain."
-Filipe Luís; Source: ESPN Brasil
We often hear the clichés about making a transition from one league, from one footballing culture to another. Sometimes, that’s nonsense, such as in the case of Diego Costa or Eden Hazard. But sometimes, there might just be something to it. Filipe freely admits to it and we’ve seen it with Pedro as well, who took a year to properly adjust and adapt.
It’s also quite clear that Filipe Luís’s heart was always in Madrid, and that’s a quality we can surely appreciate from the Chelsea angle as well.
While Filipe has added his name to the long list of candidates who’ve tried (and failed) to properly replace Ashley Cole, perhaps in Alex Sandro, we will have finally found the one we’ve been looking for.
In any case, good luck to Filipe in the upcoming season as he closes in on 300 appearances for his chosen club-love.