David Luiz is headed back to Stamford Bridge. The center back, who moved to Paris St. Germain in a blockbuster £50 million transfer two years ago, has returned to London in a sensational swoop that will reportedly cost the Blues around £34 million, pending a medical. Luiz's quick-fire transfer caps a summer of spending that Chelsea and their faithful can go into the remainder of the Premier League season rife with confidence.
Consider that less than 24 hours ago, Chelsea fans were on tenterhooks looking at their defensive situation heading into the final day of the transfer window. Then, with mere hours left before the window slammed shut, the Blues made a pair of defensive signings in Luiz and left back Marcos Alonso. The duo gives manager Antonio Conte much-needed depth across the defense.
On the surface, the surprise purchase of Luiz reeks a bit of desperation. Chelsea whiffed on their top center back target, Kalidou Koulibaly, due to Napoli's refusal to sell the Senegalese. AC Milan rebuffed Chelsea's bid for Alessio Romagnoli. In the Blues' scramble to find a replacement, they finally settled on a face they're familiar with: Luiz. The Brazilian will turn 30 in April, and is just as prone to boneheaded mental lapses as he was during his first stint in a blue shirt, but it's far from a panic-button purchase for Chelsea. The truth is, Luiz could be exactly what Chelsea need.
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The Blues had just two experienced, natural center backs — John Terry and Gary Cahill — in their ranks entering the deadline. Kurt Zouma is still on the mend from a knee injury suffered last year, and Matt Miazga and Ola Aina aren't ready for the big time yet. With Luiz in the fold, Conte's depth concerns are significantly alleviated, especially with no European football to worry about. With Alonso's signing, Conte can also shift left back Cesar Azpilicueta to his more natural right and slot Branislav Ivanovic into the center. Furthermore, Luis and Alonso's inclusions give Conte the flexibility to perhaps shift to three at the back, a formation he used to great success at both Juventus and Italy.
To put it plainly, Conte has options.
What was once a massive concern heading into the deadline has been sewed up with two shrewd signings. Of course, it must be mentioned that the latitude afforded Conte and the defense is heavily influenced by the presence of another summer signing: N'Golo Kante. With the relentless Frenchman providing non-stop cover in the midfield, Luiz's free-wheeling style might not be such an issue. Newcomer Michy Batshuayi serves as the cherry on top of the summer (and Chelsea's attack).
The Blues had a miserable season last year. Eden Hazard's lost season had a lot to do with that, but Chelsea needed to revitalize the squad around him regardless. The board identified the holes that had them on the outside looking for this year's Champions League. Reinforcements at each level, with Batshuayi in attack, Kante in midfield and Luiz and Alonso in defense represent a spectacular summer for the Blues. Now, they look every bit like title contenders.