Earlier on Friday, Chelsea Football Club met the 20 million Euro buy-out clause to acquire Brazilian left back Filipe Luis from La Liga champion Atletico Madrid. The signing of Luis marks the third time this transfer window that a player has switched from Los Rojiblancos to the Blues, joining Diego Costa, and returning loanee Thibaut Courtois. The Brazilian signed a three year contract and will join the squad for their upcoming European friendlies.
With this newest signing Jose Mourinho adds a player that can help improve upon last season’s trophyless campaign. The arrival instantly brings quality to a spot that was lacking depth after the recent departure of Ashley Cole to Roma. Last season Luis was part of a title-winning Atletico Madrid defense that allowed only 26 goals in 38 league games. In 42 appearances, 32 in La Liga, 10 Champions League, Luis averaged 3.8 tackles per game, a passing accuracy of 81.6%, and a match rating of 7.23*. Since the 2010/2011 season, his performances have consistently improved as he became a key part in Diego Simeone’s squad.
Luis should not have much difficulty adjusting to the new squad and competing for a starting position as the season begins. With the current influx of Atleti players and the group of Brazilians already at the club, adapting to life in London and the Premier League should come fast. Having already developed chemistry with goalkeeper Thibault Courtois after playing together for the past three seasons will help fortify what was already one of Europe’s best defenses.
The addition of Felipe Luis can also improve Chelsea’s offensive capabilities. Talisman Eden Hazard should now be able to worry less about tracking back in defense and focus on helping new signing Diego Costa. The Brazilian is also capable of providing more support going forward than the left back position was able to last season. Luis’s arrival means that Cesar Azpilicueta can move back to his natural right back position after deputizing on the left side of the defense most of last year.
The only decision that could be questioned regarding this deal is the price we had to pay to the Madrid club. Unlike the savviness exemplified by Chelsea in recent transfer windows, spending 20 million Euros on a player who turns 29 in August means that we may not be getting the best value long-term. Chelsea had also kept tabs on 19-year-old talent Luke Shaw while he was at Southampton, but were outpriced in their pursuit by Manchester United, who shelled out 30 million Euros to bring in the young Englishman. Shaw may be able to offer more going forward in attack and play a bigger role in his club’s performance in 5 years but does not yet have the winning experience and proven defensive capabilities of Filipe Luis.
In last season’s title clinching 1-1 match against Barcelona at Camp Nou on May 17th, Luis recorded 7 tackles and garnered a 7.4 match rating.* A week later in the Champions League Final against city rival Real Madrid, he received a 7.3 rating* before being substituted out in the 83rd minute with Atletico up 1-0. In last seasons league play, Luis was able to register more tackles, interceptions, and blocks than Shaw.**
With Filipe Luis joining the fray, the other left backs already at the club face further trouble in finding playing time. Patrick van Aanholt has already said that his career at Chelsea is “done” and Ryan Bertrand has been receiving interest from Tottenham and Liverpool.
The signing gives the club an experienced player who can shore up the defense and help Chelsea contend at a high level on multiple fronts in the near future. With the squad that Jose Mourinho is assembling, the possibility of a title arriving at Stamford Bridge in the 2014/2015 season is looking very likely.
*provided by whoscored.com
**provided by squawka.com