It wasn't that long ago that Chelsea made the headlines by smashing the EPL transfer record, bringing in Fernando Torres for 50 million pounds. Torres' transfer, along with Carroll's (35 million pounds to Liverpool) were the highlights of the January transfer window. As excited as I was about Torres' transfer to Chelsea, I was equally glad to see David Luiz moving to Stanford Bridge.
In David Luiz, Chelsea just got a world class defender for 21 million pounds, which is a bargain in my opinion.
About a year ago, I knew nothing about the former Benfica defender. During the summer 2010, numerous clubs such as Chelsea, Real Madrid, City and Barcelona were all linked with a move for the 23-year-old Brazilian defender. I started doing my research on him, mainly by tracking youtube videos. Quickly, what I gathered that he seemed equally strong in the air as on the ground.
He seemed to have good anticipation as well, but what struck me the most was he composure and skills with the ball. I have rarely seen defenders able to carry the ball with such ease and trickery.
However, I wasn't sold until I saw him play a real game, and I was fortunate enough to watch him help Brazil to a 2-0 victory over the U.S in a friendly on August 10, 2010. Luiz was everything I had seen in those videos and more.
Every great team needs a complementary central defensive pair. I like to refer to it as "the beauty and the beast". Great examples of that are Gerard Pique and Puyol, John Terry and Ricardo Carvalho, or Vidic and Ferdinand. One of your center backs should be the muscle in your defense, and that's what Terry and Vidic are.
They are pragmatic, no nonsense kind of defenders ready to put their body on the line. These players should be complemented with a skillful and tactically aware defender of the likes of Carvalho, Ferdinand, Pique and Luiz fall into.
As he has already shown in his first two Chelsea games, David Luiz provides Chelsea with something they have lacked since Carvalho started his injury spells at the club. His skills with the ball at his feet allow Chelsea to build their attack from the back. He is able to intercept the ball and run it out towards midfield or even straight to the attackers.
However, this skill has its drawbacks, as playing in such a fashion will expose the defense if the defender loses the ball and gets caught out of position. This risk was highlighted a few times in the Chelsea vs. Liverpool and the Bolton vs. Chelsea games recently.
Overall, that is risk that is well worth taking in my opinion, but it means that the midfield anchor should be disciplined enough to cover for the center back whenever the latter goes forward. A great example is Sergio Busqets, who does so well to cover for Gerard Pique at Barcelona.
In recent years, Chelsea fans have been worried about how to replace their aging captain John Terry, but I think they were focusing on the wrong issue. Chelsea have similar attributes in Terry, Ivanovic and Alex. The last two may not be born leaders as Terry, but they are at least as strong physically and hard to play against.
The real issue for Chelsea was how to replace the class and intelligence Ricky Carvalho brought to the Bridge, and they have just done so with an even more promising player.