The long rumoured deal taking David Luiz to the Camp Nou was set for completion over the summer – only for Gerardo Martino to cancel the transfer.
26 year old Luiz, who moved to Stamford Bridge from Benfica in January 2011, is seemingly unfancied by new boss Jose Mourinho, and could leave the club in January or the summer. With an unorthodox approach to defending, Luiz's carefree and laid back nature is more suited to the Barcelona defence, which emphasises a high line and technically gifted centre backs.
But despite the natural fit as a successor to Carles Puyol, the proposed deal to take Luiz to Catalunya was cancelled by one of the managers involved – but surprisingly it wasn't Jose Mourinho. Sport, who revealed the details of the transfer yesterday, acknowledged that Mourinho had a “recalcitrant attitude towards Barcelona” after a series of spats with the club, but it was in fact Gerardo Martino who halted the transfer.
Instead, new manager Martino wanted to see how Puyol recovered from injury, and how his team would cope during his absence. Despite Marc Bartra's encouraging displays, Barcelona are in dire need of a centre back, and the €35m offer for Luiz could still be resurrected in the January transfer window - but what if Martino still decides that he doesn't want Luiz?
There are still a number of potential suitors for Luiz if Chelsea choose to part ways with the Brazilian defender. Bayern Munich, who run a similar type of philosophy as Barcelona with Pep Guardiola in charge, have recently been linked with a move for Luiz, who would be able to link up with international team mate Dante in defence by moving to Bavaria.
Two of Luiz's former managers may take an interest in Luiz, with Carlo Ancelotti – now with Real Madrid – bringing him to London whilst in charge at Stamford Bridge. With Mourinho potentially in the market for a defender too, it would be interesting to see whether Madrid would part with someone like Sergio Ramos, who featured prominently under Mourinho, in order to get Luiz.
The other, Rafael Benitez, is also looking to bring a defender to Napoli, with a move for Martin Skrtel of Liverpool strongly rumoured. However, one of the few bright spots from Benitez's ill-fated stint as Chelsea boss was the form of Luiz, and Benitez saw success playing him at either centre back or in defensive midfield. The former Liverpool and Inter manager was linked with a move for Luiz in the summer, and his availability may rekindle that interest.
It seems there could be a number of suitors for Luiz, but with Mourinho looking into the possibility of signing Porto duo Nicolas Otamendi and Eliaquim Mangala, the Brazilian's future may lie away from Stamford Bridge – and playing time is vital for Luiz, as he looks to guarantee his place in Luis Felipe Scolari's Brazil squad for next summer's World Cup.
image: © Ben Sutherland