After all the positive headlines these past few months, are Chelsea preparing to take a significant step back in their transfer dealings?
According to a report by Spanish outlet Marca (via Jack Wilson of the Daily Star), the Blues are ready to meet Filipe Luis' £19 million release clause to bring the Atletico Madrid left-back to Stamford Bridge.
Considering his age and the other options in the transfer market, it's a fee that appears well over the odds.
Since January, Chelsea have driven up the price for Juan Mata, Kevin De Bruyne and David Luiz, whom Paris Saint-Germain paid £50 million for ahead of the World Cup.
In total, they made over £100 million in selling the trio—a major indication that the times have well and truly changed in west London.
From spending freely on aging superstars and often being bitten in the transfer market, Chelsea had the look of a club acting more frugal in these times of Financial Fair Play.
There will always be marquee signings, the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa having arrived for big fees this summer. Yet, they are players whose talents warrant it, giving the club a significant return on their investment in the form of silverware.
Not only that, their ages—27 and 25, respectively—mean Fabregas and Diego Costa will feature for a prolonged spell.
Before the Premier League season even starts, Luis will turn 29.
He has proven himself a talented defender but a player costing the best part of £20 million? Not quite.
If we take Ashley Cole as an example, a player who has faded in the latter stages of his career, Chelsea offloaded him this summer on a free transfer to Roma, aged 33.
Cole was replaced by Cesar Azpilicueta last season, with the right-back's displays making the former England international surplus.
How long will it be before the same happens for Luis, when time catches up with his abilities and the Blues are back in the market for another left-back?
Suddenly, £19 million begins to look a costly error in judgement.
With the departure of Cole, Chelsea are significantly weakened in defence, and with each passing day ahead of the new campaign, the need to replace him will grow.
That shouldn't mean hitting the panic button and being held to ransom, however.
United have paid for longevity—their intention is to spread Shaw's fee across the next decade and even more. And if they do, Shaw still wouldn't have reached Luis' current age, but he would have cost a mere £11 million more.
Chelsea need to pace themselves. This World Cup alone has shown there are other talented left-backs to consider, notably Argentina's Marcos Rojo and Switzerland's Ricardo Rodriguez.
Both are considerably younger options, equally talented and may well cost a less if Chelsea were to make a move.
Losing Cole has created a void that must be filled, although it shouldn't cost £19 million to fill it with a player who will soon be the wrong side of 30.
Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @garryhayes
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