In one of the most unexpected and shocking twists of this summer’s transfer window, Chelsea re-signed their former player David Luiz from Paris Saint-Germain for a fee in the region of £30million, according to Sky Sports.
Chelsea’s new manager Antonio Conte was looking to bolster his defence this summer but the Brazilian hadn’t even come into the media spotlight until the penultimate day of the transfer window. The Blues are at odds of 9/2 in the Premier League betting to lift the title, but the Italian manager knows he needs stronger options for rotation in an ageing back line and settled for Luiz in a last minute deal.
After selling Luiz to PSG for £50million two summers ago, re-signing him for a significantly reduced cost represents excellent business by the London club. Although the Brazilian won the Europa League and the Champions League with Chelsea, he was always considered an erratic defender (see above) that took too many unnecessary risks. Take the 2012/13 season for example. The Brazilian started 29 league games and picked up 8 yellow cards. He also conceded an own goal and made 2 significant errors which led to chances.
On the other hand, according to stats from Fantasy Football Scout, in that same season Luiz had 56 attempts on goal with a shot accuracy of 25%, he also completed 81% of passes and won 56.7% of aerial duels. The 29-year-old poses a significant attacking threat and can move the ball from defence with adept dribbling skill. What is striking, though, is that Luiz does not fit the mould of a sturdy Italian defender like Leonardo Bonucci or Giorgio Chiellini, the type of players with which Conte is used to operating. This adds to the feel that the Champions League winner was somewhat of a last-resort addition.
Luiz doesn’t seem to have improved too much during his time at the Parc des Princes either. During the 2015/16 Ligue 1 campaign the defender made 4 serious defensive errors in 25 starts, and only won 55% of aerial duels.
What is significant about this signing is that it has created an array of new options at the back for Conte. During the Italian’s time at Juventus and with the Italian national team, he frequently utilised a 3-5-2 formation, with three traditional centre-halves forming a solid wall in front of the goalkeeper. Luiz could also be rotated with John Terry and Gary Cahill should Conte choose to play 4 at the back, both of whom are ageing players that may struggle to complete a full campaign.
Luiz also has that skill and ability to charge forward and start attacks from defence. He is the kind of ball-playing defender that Pep Guardiola enjoys using and who Chelsea have been lacking since his departure. With N’Golo Kante performing solid defensive duties in midfield, the Brazilian may be given the licence to roam.
How Luiz will fit into Conte’s system is a mystery that will only be resolved once the league returns after the international break. Though the signing is perhaps a rather odd one, it does mean that the Blues boss has a wealth of different options now to consider when selecting his starting XI.