Ever since Jose Mourinho returned to Chelsea last summer, there have been rumours that David Luiz is on borrowed time. The Special One likes his defenders to defend, and Luiz’s occasional lapses in concentration tend to affect his defensive work. He also struggles to perform in the so-called smaller games, especially when he feels like there is little to play for.
However, Luiz as a defensive midfielder is someone the Blues should hang on to. Against Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain, he took on the role of destroyer, charging down every ball that came near him and recycling possession back up the pitch. He has been particularly impressive next to Nemanja Matic, and the positive impact his personality appears to have on the squad should not be underestimated.
According to David Hytner of The Guardian, John Terry believes Luiz has the potential to become Chelsea’s next long-term captain, and with the retirement of Terry and Frank Lampard looming on the horizon, it would be foolish to let a future leader go.
It looked inevitable that Luiz would be leaving for Barcelona last summer summer, with Financial Fair Play compliance the new obsession at Chelsea. According to Ben Jefferson of the Express, the Catalan club were willing to pay up to £65 million for Luiz, but their interest in another Chelsea player could—and should—save his Stamford Bridge career.
Reports last week by John Cross of the Mirror linked Ramires with a move to Barcelona. The Brazilian told Martin Lipton of the Mirror (h/t ESPNFC.com) that Mourinho had tried to sign him for both Inter Milan and Real Madrid, and it seems he has the backing of his manager. The box-to-box midfielder certainly cannot be questioned on his work rate and lung-busting tenacity, but there are some huge shadows behind his enthusiastic approach.
Ramires has gifted possession to the opposition 56 times this season under no pressure and has had the ball stolen from him 34 times. His enormous efforts largely involve chasing after balls he should never have lost in the first place, and his 79 fouls show that he struggles to win them back fairly.
By contrast, Luiz has lost the ball 16 times and been dispossessed on just nine occasions. He has committed only 36 fouls and allowed 24 players to dribble past him. Ramires has seen 74 players skip past him with the ball.
Neither player has a stellar disciplinary record, but Ramires’ transgressions tend to result in more serious punishments. He will miss the last two Premier League games of this season as well as the first of the 2014/15 campaign after swinging an arm at Sebastian Larsson in the 2-1 loss to Sunderland, per BBC Sport. Over the course of his Chelsea career, Ramires has picked up 37 yellow cards and three red cards, while Luiz has been booked 31 times in the same period.
Their passing accuracy is similar, but David Luiz’s efforts at long balls allow him to maintain his position on the pitch. Both players are at the peaks of their careers and, at 27 years old, have little room to improve. However, Luiz shows flashes of potential to be better than his current average, while Ramires is almost certainly performing at his highest possible level.
Ideally, neither player would leave in the summer. Both Brazilians have played key roles in Chelsea’s recent successes, and it would be sad to say goodbye to either of them. However, it is difficult to deny that Luiz is just that little bit more Chelsea than Ramires is. With Mourinho hoping to build a legacy that lasts even longer than his last one, Luiz should stay at Stamford Bridge for the long term.
Statistics from WhoScored.com unless otherwise noted.