David Luiz made a sensational return to Chelsea on deadline day as the club finally brought in a central defender. They had been trying to sign one all summer, with Kalidou Koulibaly being the priority target. However they couldn’t agree a deal with Napoli, which left them desperately searching for another option during the final days of the window. Although they were unlikely to target David Luiz at the beginning of the summer, it was a deal that made sense for all parties on deadline day. It can be seen as a panic buy, as he isn’t a typical Antonio Conte centre back, but it is one that could work out for the club.
It is rare for sentimentality to come to the fore in football, but it certainly has in this transfer and it may not necessarily be a bad thing. Chelsea wouldn’t have been as open to a move for David Luiz if he hadn’t previously played for the club. Once the opportunity arose, they knew that signing Luiz would fix a lot of their problems.
Firstly, they needed to sign a centre-half and Luiz is seen as one of the best in the world. He has spent the majority of his career at three huge clubs in Benfica, Chelsea and PSG. The Brazilian can be frustrating and is liable to making mistakes, but he is an excellent reader of the game. His positioning has improved since leaving Chelsea, while he is also much more disciplined. Luiz does still enjoy venturing forwards and launching attacks from deep. However, he has become more intelligent after playing alongside Thiago Silva on a consistent basis. Under Conte, he could become even better and play the best football of his career.
He will improve the Chelsea defence as he is a better player than Gary Cahill, but it will also be a popular move with the fans. David Luiz has a great relationship with the Stamford Bridge faithful, which will have helped push the transfer through on Chelsea’s end. There was a possibility that the Chelsea fans would have been upset at the late transfer business if they didn’t get their main targets. They didn’t, but bringing Luiz back does paper over the cracks and distracts the supporters from what was a poorly executed approach during this window.
Chelsea may deny that this is a panic buy, but it will be difficult to convince people of that. Antonio Conte loves disciplined defenders and wanted a young centre-half that he could develop into his own image. Kalidou Koulibaly would have been perfect for this, as he is already a very good defender, but he has room to develop further. The moment that this move failed, it became difficult for Chelsea. There aren’t many quality centre-halves in Europe and even fewer who are available. This created the need for a late deal and David Luiz was the best option for them.
His character will be great to have in the squad, as he is a positive figure and is already well liked by the Chelsea players that remain from his first spell at the club. Last season, the team spirit wasn’t great and they suffered due to that. Luiz will improve the mood in the dressing room and that will only be a positive.
Despite the desperation linked to the deal, it could turn out to be a good one for Chelsea. He already has a relationship with the fans, knows the club and has previously played with the current centre-backs in the squad. Luiz should settle in immediately and under a defensive coach like Conte, his eccentricities could become fewer. Chelsea don’t have a player to launch attacks from defence at the moment and they now have that in Luiz. It isn’t the deal that Conte wanted, but it isn’t an awful one either.