Chelsea are all set to reshuffle their Brazilian pack, with David Luiz being sold to fund the transfer of Diego Costa.
Two stories in the last 48 hours have solidified expectations of what Jose Mourinho's reshaped Chelsea squad of 2014–15 will look like.
Reports, including this from Ben Jefferson of the Express, that David Luiz is set for a move to Barcelona confirm the mood music that has surrounded Stamford Bridge since early this season.
Mourinho has shown time and again that the 27-year-old does not fit into his plans for a centre-half pairing—with John Terry and Gary Cahill having an outstanding season mostly in his absence.
The writing was on the wall for David Luiz as early as last September, when he was dropped for the Premier League match against Fulham at Stamford Bridge.
Asked about this some days later after the League Cup match at Swindon, the defender gave a terse response about Mourinho's team selections.
"I don't need to prove anything," he said. "Everyone knows who is David Luiz.
"I am just one player in the team. Sometimes the manager can put me in, sometimes not. It’s his choice.”
That, and a similarly grumpy interview immediately after the Premier League win at the Etihad—one of Chelsea's greatest results of the season—seemed to be pointing to only one thing.
David Luiz's occasional languid lapses, and lack of attention to defensive detail, simply don't fit in with a Mourinho model that expects a hard-drilled defence to be thinking on its feet for 90 minutes, plus whatever time the fourth official adds.
Meanwhile stories hinting at an early summer resolution to the Chelsea-Costa transfer talk have started popping up in recent days, including from Colin Harvey in the Star.
Costa, born in Brazil but of adopted Spanish nationality, is another deal that has been long-expected, and it shows how Mourinho wants his Chelsea to take shape.
His dissatisfaction with his strikers goes all the way back to December, when I reported for the Fulham Chronicle that he was "desperate" to replace them.
But, as Atletico Madrid have risen up the league due largely to his goals, Chelsea have been increasingly linked with him.
The stories we see today add nothing to what was already known—that Costa's buy-out is £32 million, that Chelsea are keen to get him and that Atletico are keen to do business with a club with whom they have both Thibaut Courtois and, potentially, Fernando Torres in common.
A deal will surely be announced some time after the Champions League final—possibly at the beginning of June.
So if David Luiz exemplifies what Mourinho doesn't want in a defender, Costa contains the watermark of what he likes in a striker.
He is big, a real handful, makes a nuisance of himself and is universally despised by opponents. He also scores a lot of goals—something which none of the strikers at his present disposal can say.
For all the talk of Mourinho as the passionate people-person, the best man manager in the world who wears his heart on his sleeve, he is actually a very pragmatic manager.
Yes, he gambles occasionally on substitutions and formations but most of his selections are based on what he sees as near certainties.
Defenders who don't make mistakes. Strikers who do score goals.
A player who produces moments of brilliance, amid hours of indifference, is not the player Mourinho wants.
All of which explains David Luiz out, Diego Costa in. Expect this summer's other Chelsea transfer deals to follow a similar pattern.
*All quotes and information sourced first-hand
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