If you cost €49.5m, then you must have something quite special about you. That is the extraordinary figure that everybody gasped at last week, even those who have become accustomed to Les Parisiens’ lavish spending. Just €500,000 shy of an eye watering €50m, David Luiz will become the world’s most expensive defender, eclipsing the record set by his compatriot and future club teammate Thiago Silva.
We now know why the deal was thrashed out so quickly. The player’s desire to get everything sorted just before the FIFA World Cup in his homeland and PSG’s appliance to that. Chelsea Football Club will certainly be rubbing their hands together at raking in nearly double what they paid for the player back in 2011, especially as Luiz has not figured so predominantly under the stewardship of Jose Mourinho. Even when he has been utilised, it has been more in defensive midfield where his attributes seem to flourish more so than in the middle of a back-four.
Nevertheless, Laurent Blanc has been adamant to recruit a centre-back. All the more after last week’s revelation that Alex will most probably leave on a free after both parties failed to come to an agreement over a new contract. Hours after Blanc’s admission, the Luiz news broke. Delegates from the club flew over to Rio de Janeiro, oversaw a medical, before the club released a statement confirming that the transfer will be finalised on June 10th. Just like that, six days after the end of the season, Paris Saint-Germain made the second biggest signing in the club’s history.
So what are we getting bar the big hair and infectious personality? Well on paper, putting him and Thiago Silva at the heart of the defence looks beautiful. They are Brazil’s current centre-back pairing that will be key to repelling the array of talent that will come their way over the coming weeks as they seek a sixth World Cup triumph. It is obvious that that knowing the chemistry both players have on the pitch, was a desirable factor in the interest. There should be no jitters come August when the season gets underway as there is already a built-up relationship that even spreads to outside of football. Both are good friends, you just have to look at one another’s Instagram accounts to draw that conclusion.
Being the host nation, the Samba Stars have been short of competitive football. But their performance in last year’s FIFA Confederations Cup – on Brazilian soil – made the world sit up and take note of this enchanting nation yet again. The Selecao went on to win the tournament by demolishing the current world champions Spain 3-0 in the final. As fantastic as they were going forward, you have to admire the opposite side of the coin. They are not the most flamboyant Brazil team we have ever seen but they are certainly one of the most efficient. Luiz and Silva were key to that Confederation Cup victory. Just two goals were conceded in the group-stage which contained 2006 world champions Italy. Ironically the only goal they conceded after that was in the semi-final against Uruguay which was scored by Edinson Cavani.
Their only defeat in 2013 came against Switzerland. However, with no David Luiz, in came Dante alongside Thiago Silva. Of course, you cannot draw conclusions on one game with a player missing. Nevertheless, Luiz Felipe Scolari’s men did not taste defeat with the Luiz/Silva partnership.
The 27-year-old arrives as a 2012 Champions League winner. He has also won the Europa League, so he comes with a bulk of medals in tow. His versatility to play in midfield was a big draw, especially when you think Thiago Motta is not getting any younger. Luiz could always play the role if need be. As I said however, centre-back will be his predominant position.
Luiz and Silva are not too dissimilar. Both like playing the ball from out the back but Luiz perhaps just shades it. In 19 appearances in the Premier League last season he made 12 successful dribbles. Silva made just eight in 28 league games. In Europe, Luiz made eight in eight appearances. Silva made just the one in seven. Granted, Luiz made some of these appearances in centre-midfield but it does emphasis his ability on the ball. Defending? Not bad either despite his doubters. In Europe, he made an impressive 18 interceptions which was just one short of the skipper TS who got 19. The skipper however eclipses the new arrival domestically with 63 compared to DS’s 25. And then of course, the art of a great defender is tackling. Silva comes out on top domestically with 32, but Luiz again not too far behind despite his handicap in terms of appearances as he made 22. It does just go to show that he is a more than capabale defender despite this perception of him being just a bobby dazzler on the ball that can hamper his team. It is not the case.
All in all, the sum of money is obscene. But when you think about Luiz’s versatility, his age (27, best years should be ahead), his experience and his relationship with in my opinion the best centre-back on the planet in Thiago Silva, you can see the logic. Plus with Alex departing and the full implications of FFP just sinking in, the club probably felt it was right to make the move quickly. Addressing a position that needed to be but at the same time making a statement to UEFA that they will not be deterred from making moves in the market.
Stats courtesy of WhoScored.com