Is this Chelsea defender really the successor to Puyol at Barcelona?

David Luiz

David Luiz has been linked with a move to the La Liga outfit in the wake of the stalwart's announcement that he will leave the club this summer.

Carlos Puyol's decision to leave Barcelona is not altogether surprising. A chequered recent injury record has put paid to his contribution to a side synonymous with his name.

He may yet move elsewhere. Perhaps the ever-burgeoning MLS, a path Alessandro Nesta and former team-mate Thierry Henry have trodden, or maybe the final pay day of a move to Qatar?

Given his unquestionable quality there remains a school of thought he may even still be able to cut it in Europe still, although just 12 appearances for Barcelona so far this term - owing to persistent knee injuries - may be a deciding factor in extinguishing his chances.

While Puyol will take a deserved rest this summer - his CV boasts six La Liga titles and three Champions League crowns - Barcelona's hunt for his replacement begins.

Plenty of names are likely to be linked with such a prodigious role in the Barca setup, but rumours have already started to circulate that it could be David Luiz who steps into the considerable shoes vacated.

Luiz certainly fits the Barcelona blueprint, especially from a defensive one. The fact he has been fielded in central defensive midfield by Chelsea managers past and present reflects how he is perceived as the progressive defensive prototype.

His ability to bring the ball out of defence and launch attacks from the back are attributes designed and harnessed in the Barca footballing school, with current central defenders Gerard Pique and Javier Mascherano as comfortable on the ball as they are at dispossessing strikers.

The Chelsea man may be slightly more forward-thinking than his possible predecessor, but that should not detract from his defensive qualities; Luiz is no slouch when it comes to a foot race, is strong in the tackle and has a knack of being in the right place at the right time to make interceptions.

These traits have come to embody Puyol's style in the Barca backline and while there are obvious weaknesses - including a lack of positional awareness and nonchalance on the ball - the former Benfica man looks as good a fit as the likes of Mats Hummels, Neven Subotic or Eliaquim Mangala.

If manager Gerardo Martino hopes to remove the idea of Puyol's considerable spectre haunting the club, then identifying and carrying out a deal for Luiz is vital. 

He may not be to everyone's taste but he is the most viable option currently on the market. With Mascherano and former Arsenal man Alex Song also made in a similar mould, Martino would have numerous options at his disposal.

As for Chelsea in all of this, a deal may give them the additional funds required to buy the bona fide elite striker Jose Mourinho currently lacks from his collection.

The Portuguese is also expected to move for Luke Shaw and a compromise of around £25-£30m for Luiz would help him offload a player who is playing second fiddle to first-choice defensive pairing Gary Cahill and John Terry and new boy Nemanja Matic at the base of the midfield.

He may be the enigmatic but charismatic defender which Martino requires to replace a club legend but he is also one who has become problematic at Stamford Bridge for his cavalier tendencies in Mourinho's austere system.

image: © Ben Sutherland

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