Thursday, 1 September 2016

From 'Sideshow Bob' to centre stage: David Luiz saves Chelsea from transfer disaster

From 'Sideshow Bob' to centre stage: David Luiz saves Chelsea from transfer disaster
The Blues seemed to spend much of the summer running around mad looking for a centre-back, but they found a returning hero mere hours before it was too late
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David Luiz's late Deadline Day arrival at Stamford Bridge has turned transfer disaster into success for Chelsea.
The Stamford Bridge outfit had looked short at the back, but the return of the Brazilian means that they now have a squad capable of fulfilling the aims of manager Antonio Conte.
They made two major signings shortly before the window shut, capturing Luiz from Paris Saint-Germain for £32 million and adding Marcos Alonso from Fiorentina for £23m.
Michy Batshuayi, N'Golo Kante and Eduardo had already been brought into west London, but the truth is that the Chelsea board suffered frustration time and again as their bids for defenders were repeatedly rejected. Moreover, a host of their main targets, including midfielder Radja Nainggolan and striker Alvaro Morata, slipped away from them.
Chelsea's situation verged on crisis and fans began to aim their frustration at technical director Michael Emenalo, who habitually takes the brunt of transfer-related criticism.


Conte has had only four senior defenders fit for his opening games and publically predicted a lack of signings could lead to failure.
His skin was saved with the arrival of the Brazil international, offering some balance to the Italian, who is acutely aware that there will be as many as seven clubs battling for four Champions League spots at the end of the season. Once nicknamed 'Sideshow Bob' for his unique mop of hair, Chelsea fans are no longer mocking their most important signing of the summer.
Owner Roman Abramovich was forced to shell out over £120m in a bid to support his new manager, whose minimum target is to secure a top-four finish. The Russian billionaire has funded a transfer campaign more lavish than any in the Premier League - the two Manchester clubs aside.
N'Golo Kante's signing from Leicester City was the only deal to obviously represent great value for money in a transfer market Conte repeatedly called "crazy". Chelsea had to beat a host of the biggest clubs from around Europe to sign the 25-year-old Paris-born player, and already he has shown why.
The France international midfielder stands out as Chelsea's best signing and has instantly made a huge impact at Stamford Bridge. Indeed, last season he should have beaten his former Leicester team-mate Riyad Mahrez to the PFA Player of the Year Award.
Meanwhile, Michy Batshuayi has also started well after arriving from Marseille, scoring a crucial goal in the recent win over Watford, but Chelsea's other new boys have yet to feature.

Alonso and Luiz are not bargains - you might even argue that they are panic buys - but they are of the required standard to achieve Conte's short-term aims.
Chelsea's £60m Deadline Day splurge banishes their hangover from last season's abysmal transfer window, in which they signed flops like Baba Rahman, Papy Djilobodji, Michael Hector and Radamel Falcao. Now the only way is up after a disappointing 10th-placed finish last term.
Now the board and Conte can relax now after navigating a transfer market that has been long and painfully drawn out - but, more crucially, a success.

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