David Luiz arrived back at Chelsea on Transfer Deadline Day in one of the biggest shock deals of the summer.
The one question everyone was asking was simply: why?
[ MORE: Summer transfer grades ]
Luiz, 29, was sold to Paris Saint-Germain in the summer of 2014 for a whopping $65 million, which at the time was a record transfer fee for a defender.
At the time his sale divided opinion among Chelsea’s fans but with then manager Jose Mourinho not his biggest fan, plus the astronomical offer arriving from PSG, most agreed it was a deal too good to turn down.
Now that Chelsea has bought Luiz back for around $40 million, many are asking why on earth Antonio Conte has decided to sign the flamboyant Brazilian defender.
And rightly so.
[ MORE: How much did each team spend? ]
Roman Abramovich, Chelsea’s billionaire Russian owner, is said to be a huge fan of Luiz and it was pretty clear that everyone at Chelsea, including Luiz himself, was happy to stay at Stamford Bridge two years ago. Mourinho wanted him out and when PSG came in, that was it.
This deal, which moved rapidly over the past 24 hours, seems like one which may have been done by Arbamovich and the hierarchy at Chelsea rather than Conte. We know that technical director Micheal Emenalo plays a huge role in arranging transfers and Conte’s role at Chelsea is “head coach.” Don’t forget that.
Why did Luiz leave in the first place and why is there so much talk about his re-signing at Chelsea now?
As a defender his defending is simply just, well, not that good. Luiz takes unnecessary risks in and around his own box and although he has an impressive passing ability and a wicked set-piece delivery, switching off when marking players and giving the ball away in dangerous areas will be a concern for Chelsea’s fans.
That said, Conte may be the right manager to get the best out of him. Chelsea could completely switch their system and play with a 3-5-2 formation which would allow Luiz to play in central defense and stride forward with the ball and start attacks. Conte has had Leonardo Bonucci to do that for him at Juventus and with Italy over the past few years. Conte also prides himself on coaching his players to defend properly and he may see Luiz as an intriguing prospect and someone he can drastically improve in the latter years of the Brazilian internationals career.
Another option for Luiz is to play in central midfield. He did it for a brief stint in the past under Mourinho and it had pretty good results because he could take more risks on the ball and he provided strength in the central area.
Now, with N'Golo Kante around that means the Blues already have a holding midfielder who can provide cover for the back three or four, but with Luiz alongside Kante they could be a perfect duo. Kante could win the ball back and Luiz could use his impressive long-passing abilities to launch Chelsea’s counter attacks. We’ve already seen Conte’s philosophy edging through in the opening three weeks of the season and although Luiz may not provide the defensive stability needed at Chelsea, he could be able to launch these counters and be very useful in a holding role.
With many scratching their heads about his return to Chelsea, my vote would be for Luiz to play in central midfield on his surprise return to west London.