The on-off-on negotiations between Chelsea and Benfica bordered on tedium as the pair dragged things on throughout January. With the Fernando Torres capture monopolising the back pages, Luiz’s eventual arrival down the King’s Road for a king’s ransom was consigned to the small print.
Indeed, that fee itself may have been subject to more scrutiny had it not been sandwiched between Torres and Andy Carroll breaking respective British transfer records.
The cash plus Nemanja Matic deal is estimated to be worth over £25m, for a defender who has played just over 100 games in Europe, has only 5 Brazil caps to his name, and who was terrorised by Torres at Anfield last year. It was also a player from the same club who managed to extract £18m from the Blues for Ramires in the summer.
Like Torres, Luiz arrives at Stamford Bridge with an answerable price-tag and high expectation around his neck. Similar to Torres, Luiz has been heralded by Carlo Ancelotti as the chosen ones, the men he needed and wanted to get things right again.
The dynamic duo were never on the pitch at the same time against Liverpool, but whilst Torres completely struggled to find his groove, Luiz’s seventeen minute burst saw him confidently and competently bring the ball out from the back to initiate moves.
That really was the silver lining around the cloud, and now armed with his two new recruits, Ancelotti will have to make those clouds go away soon.
In the run-up to the short trip to Fulham, the Italian spoke of his belief that Luiz could become one of the world’s best defenders and could bring a ‘new dimension’ to the way the team plays. They are bold statements by Ancelotti, and in such a precarious position, ones by which he will fly or die.
The Blues are already on-course for their worst league finish during Roman Abramovich’s reign with even the ignominy of a top four finish not under control. It could be perceived that the deadline day signings were a demonstration of faith towards the manager in the long-term, but Abramovich has essentially given Ancelotti the three line whip that his £75m outlay means results must be delivered.
Any hope of retaining the title is fast fading and privately the parameters of success will have been redefined for between now and the end of the season.
A top four finish is imperative, so to an improvement on last season’s Champions League falterings, whilst surrendering the FA Cup will not bode well either.
However, possibly the most important but ultimately material factor as to whether Ancelotti remains at the helm will be how the overall on-field chemistry improves from its current depths.
A faltering finish regardless of material gains could spell the death knoll for Ancelotti. The Blues high command have been burnt by having to replace Jose Mourinho and Luis Felipe Scolari mid season and unless Ancelotti can here on in prove he can best utilise Chelsea’s assets, he may find himself no longer being an asset to Chelsea.