Club Focus – Chelsea – Luiz deal advances as young promise departs on loan

Chelsea have moved closer to strengthening their depleted squad as they neared a deal to sign Brazilian defender David Luiz from Portuguese champions Benfica. The lengthy process of negotiation has been going on for some time, with the Blues first linked to the versatile defender, who is adept at centre back and right back, last summer. But after struggling this season with a lack of strength in depth in defence, the reigning Premier League champions upped their interest with a January move, reportedly seeing a £17million offer rejected earlier this month.

However, after an increased offer and rumoured player-plus-cash deals involving Paulo Ferreira or a selection of youth players were rebutted, Chelsea’s new offer, apparently in the region of £26million looks to have turned the Lisbon clubs’ head. Benfica released a statement confirming that a bid for the 23-year-old had been made by the Blues and that discussion between the clubs of his procurement was ongoing: “We have received an offer from Chelsea Football Club for the acquisition of the sporting and economic rights of David Luiz. A negotiation process between both parties is ongoing and the market will be informed when it is completed.”

The Blues made just one summer transfer last year with Luiz’s fellow Brazilian and former team-mate Ramires joining for £17million and the Londoners will hope for more successful negotiation with the Portuguese club this time around. The two clubs have until next Monday to strike a deal with the closure of the January transfer window looming. Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti was coy in his assessment of a potential deal after Monday’s 4-0 win over Bolton, saying: “He is the only signing we are trying to make but if it’s not possible, nothing changes. He’s a very good young player but we have not agreed anything.” The Blues would like to wrap up the move in time for the weekend trip to Everton in the FA Cup fourth round, though more likely is next Tuesday’s Premier League visit to Sunderland – potentially seeing Luiz switch one Stadium of Light for another as the Black Cats share their ground name with the Portuguese club.

Elsewhere, the club also announced on Wednesday the temporary departure of two young talents as Patrick Van Aanholt and Gael Kakuta leave on loan until the end of the season. Left-back Van Aanholt joins Championship club Leicester City, managed by former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson and currently 11th in the competitive division. Just six points outside the playoffs and in with a shot at promotion to the Premier League, the Foxes should prove a valuable source of playing time for the 20-year-old, who spent time on loan last season at Newcastle United and Coventry City.

Meanwhile Kakuta, 19, stays in the Premier League as he links up with Chelsea’s West London rivals Fulham, with the French winger likely to be given more opportunities at Craven Cottage than with the Blues. The youngster was voted the Golden Player at last summers’ UEFA European Under-19 Football Championship, scoring two goals as the French side won the tournament. But he has yet to make his mark at Stamford Bridge since his controversial 2007 move from Lens, after accusations of breaching contract by the club he departed and an overturned ban from football in the aftermath. Kakuta has made just 16 appearances for Chelsea with only five starts.

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