It appears that the talk is over and that Jose Mourinho will make his official return to Stamford Bridge in the next week or so. Already speculation is rumbling about who the Portuguese will want to add to the blues squad, and who will be on the way out. Normally the big news is on the former, but with rumours that don’t seem to want to go away circulating about a possible move for David Luiz, it could be the outgoings that grab the early headlines.
When Luiz landed at Stamford Bridge from Benfica for a reported 25million euros plus makeweight Nemanja Matic moving the other way, it seemed an awful lot of dosh for what Gary Neville infamously described as a “Playstation player”. This season however has seen the Brazilian become the bedrock of the Chelsea starting eleven in all of the big games, even venturing into the holding midfield role on occasions, and performing with equal dexterity. Luiz is now one of the foremost defenders in the Premier League, and his value will have increased.
It would therefore seem a little contrary for Mourinho to be looking to offload such a talent. This would be made even stranger given the fact that Luiz is also reported to be a favourite of owner Roman Abramovich, and one of the new coterie of players said to have the oligarch’s ear. The Special One is no stranger to controversy however and would probably not shirk from a decision for that reason. Perhaps seeing it as a chance to assert his control over the squad, it could even be a an added reason to do it.
All of the above of course is politics not football, and in football terms it’s hard to build a case to sell Luiz. With John Terry perhaps at the tail end of his career, losing the Brazillian would leave the centre back slots occupied by the estimable Branislav Ivanovic – although the Serb is apparently a target for the nouveau riche on Monaco, and Gary Cahill. There is also the untapped talent of Nathan Ake, who edged into the first team squad towards the end of the season, and the even younger Nathaniel Chalobah, who strove in Watford’s recently abortive Championship promotion push. Both of these players, although natural centre backs, have been playing as holding midfielders of late, and are hardly ready to be plunged into the frantic world of the Premier League on a regular basis yet.
There is of course the option to purchase another centre back, but that would surely negate the only logical reason to sell Luiz, that is financial gain. In any normal times, with a normal manager, the story would probably be dismissed as ‘paper talk’, but with Mourinho, Chelsea and the politics that this particular combination can conspire to produce, such an exercise could be precipitous in the extreme. As with all things Mourinho, expect the unexpected.