Tuesday 20 August 2019

Luiz trains alone as he eyes Arsenal move

David Luiz wants a move to Arsenal before the transfer window closes today. Photo: John Sibley/Action Images via Reuters
David Luiz wants a move to Arsenal before the transfer window closes today. Photo: John Sibley/Action Images via Reuters

Matt Law

David Luiz did not train with the Chelsea first team yesterday after sensationally trying to force a transfer deadline move to Arsenal.

The two clubs will now attempt to negotiate a deal that suits all parties, with Chelsea willing to cash in on a player who could have left the club on a free transfer at the end of last season.

Despite only signing a new two-year contract with the Blues in May, Luiz has made it clear he wants to go following a series of fallouts over the past week.

The situation came to a head just over 24 hours before the transfer window closes and on the same day that Wilfried Zaha handed in a transfer request to try to force a move away from Crystal Palace, and Romelu Lukaku closed in on a switch to Inter Milan after training away from Manchester United.

Head coach Frank Lampard decided Luiz should train apart from the rest of his Chelsea squad, following a week in which the Brazilian is believed to have become a disruptive influence.

Arsenal, whose coach Unai Emery worked with Luiz at Paris St-Germain, are interested in signing 32-year-old Luiz before today's transfer deadline at 5pm.

The Gunners have been looking for a cut-price central defender all summer and are now focusing their efforts on Luiz, with Celtic left-back Kieran Tierney also set to move to the Emirates.

Influential

Luiz has a good relationship with Emery, and his agent, Kia Joorabchian, was influential in Arsenal's appointment of technical director Edu. Another of Joorabchian's clients, Philippe Coutinho, was this week linked with the north London club.

Joorabchian also looks after Chelsea forward Willian and has worked successfully with the club on numerous deals, including another Brazilian, Oscar.

Chelsea are thought to be open to letting Luiz go, with Lampard unlikely to consider him for selection. Given the fact the centre-back could have left for nothing, a fee of between £5million and £10m will be considered good business.

Luiz had spoken positively about the new era under Lampard, but it is understood there have been a number of disagreements surrounding the Brazilian since the pre-season victory over Red Bull Salzburg.

Kurt Zouma partnered Andreas Christensen for Chelsea's final pre-season friendly against Borussia Monchengladbach and it seems Lampard will now put his faith in the pair for the first Premier League game of the season, against Manchester United on Sunday.

Luiz's behaviour has come as a shock to Chelsea, given that he has spoken positively about the season ahead.

Only last week, after the defeat by Salzburg, he said: "Chelsea have many people with the DNA of the club, not just the staff. Everyone knows each other well and has worked for this club for a long time.

"We have an amazing English generation with (Callum) Hudson-Odoi, Ruben (Loftus-Cheek), Tammy (Abraham). It's a great moment for the team, for the club. It's up to us to work hard. Everybody knows how to represent the club. It's a great opportunity to create this family and work together."

The situation regarding Luiz goes some way to explaining why 21-year-old defender Fikayo Tomori has not yet left Chelsea on loan.

Destination

Chelsea had been planning to send Tomori out for the season and Everton had been touted as the most likely destination. But with Luiz now trying to force a move and the Blues unable to sign a replacement, Tomori may be required to stay.

Luiz returned for his second spell at Chelsea at the end of the 2016 summer transfer window in £34m switch from PSG.

He won the Premier League title in his first season back under Antonio Conte, but was then frozen out for the Italian's second campaign following a row after the Champions League defeat at Roma.

Luiz was restored to the starting line-up by Maurizio Sarri and had been on course to take over vice-captain responsibilities this season under Lampard.

But his reaction to possibly not starting the season, behind Zouma and Christensen, could have spelt the end of his Chelsea career, which included winners' medals in the Champions League, FA Cup and Europa League during his first three-year spell.

Lampard's handling of the situation also makes it clear he will not accept any challenges to his authority, despite his relative lack of managerial experience.

Arsenal have been in need of a new central defender all summer and had been linked with Daniele Rugani of Juventus. But they have now turned their attention to Luiz and will hope to agree a deal before today's cut-off.

Tierney is due to join in a £25m move after Arsenal agreed to restructure their payment schedule.

Other than negotiating with Arsenal, Chelsea are also in discussions with Burnley over a season-long loan move for out-of-favour midfielder Danny Drinkwater.

Irish Independent

The Throw-In: Tipp throw off the shackles while Kilkenny’s soul-searching begins

In association with Bord Gáis Energy

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport