The Blues manager spent big on deadline day to bring back the club’s Champions League winning defender, but was the Brazilian what he had in mind when he signed?
Chelsea were left scrambling around on deadline day to complete the £32 million re-signing of David Luiz from Paris Saint-Germain, but the truth is the Brazilian is not who Antonio Conte wanted from the transfer market.
Luiz is not Conte’s preferred type of defender, but the Italian boss was still happy to bring him in after growing worried that without another signing they would have been left lacking in both numbers and quality in defence.
Super-agent Kia Joorabchian was instrumental in orchestrating the deal between Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea’s directors at such late notice, and he told Goal that it was Luiz’s fondness for the club that got the deal over the line.
Luiz’s love of the Blues has never been in question, but would Chelsea have signed him if they hadn’t have missed out on their targets? The answer is certainly no, with six defenders targetted before Luiz was know to be available over the summer.
Conte will sympathise with his board for not getting sucked into paying crazy fees during an overpriced market for defenders and feels like he can work with Luiz, but he wants to coach out of him the mistakes that once led Gary Neville to describe him as if he is controlled by a “10-year-old on a PlayStation.”
Here are six signings that Chelsea tried to make last summer.
Kalidou Koulibaly was Conte’s first choice and he and Chelsea felt they could lure the Napoli defender after he grew unsettled at his club over slow contract negotiations that ultimately led to him falling out with president Aurelio De Laurentiis.
However, De Laurentiis wouldn’t be convinced to let the 25-year-old go even after private phone calls from Conte and at least one bid of around £58 million.
On August 23, AC Milan confirmed they rejected Chelsea’s bid of over €35 million for Alessio Romagnoli who is considered one of the brightest young defensive talents in Italy. This was a few days before Chelsea turned their attentions towards securing Luiz from PSG.
Niklas Sule’s agent confirmed that the Hoffenheim defender turned down the opportunity to join Chelsea after the window shut but that he remains a target for the Blues. The 21-year-old was the subject of a £25.1m bid, but he felt it was too early to leave the Bundesliga as he aims to build upon his successful season of last year.
Leonardo Bonucci was a player Conte was interested in after working with him at Juventus and the Italy national team, but he knew how hard it would be to secure one of his former club’s key men. Chelsea stopped short of making a bid for the 29-year-old, despite seeing Manchester City try and fail to secure a deal of over £50m. They remain interested, but Bonucci is expected to stay and sign a new deal with Juventus in the coming weeks.
Kostas Manolas was identified as a target in the knowledge that Roma have to sell one major asset every summer to remain competitive for Champions League places in Serie A. Juventus acted quickly to ensure they benefited as they signed Roma’s talismanic playmaker, Miralem Pjanic. From that moment on, Roma became as difficult to deal with as Napoli and Chelsea cooled their interest in him despite holding casual talks with Walter Sabatini in London.
Antonio Rudiger was a serious target of Chelsea’s going into Euro 2016, but suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury in training with the German national team after an impressive season with Roma.