BY PAUL LAGAN
David Luiz is hoping he has proved himself to new boss Maurizo Sarri that he is fit and willing to fight the Chelsea cause – to the extent that the Blues don’t need to raid the transfer market for a new centre-back.
Chelsea have searched for defensive cover and are looking at Italian champions Juventus’s Mattia Caldara.
They have cooled their interest in his team-mate Daniel Rugani and are hoping to wrap up a £35million deal for centre-back Caldara. With new dad Alvaro Morata seemingly available having less than impressed Sarri, the Blues are also hoping to bag Juve’s Gonzalo Higuain. But Brazilian Luiz, who will start for Chelsea in their pre-season friendly against Arsenal in Dublin tomorrow night, is keen to put the troubles of last season behind him. He had fallen down the pecking order under Antonio Conte and struggled with a thigh injury for much of the season.
He said: “I had a lot of time to take care of me last year, so now I’m 100 per cent. “I love this philosophy (of Sarri). We play high, with a lot of possession of the ball, in a technical way. The coach is trying to help us every single day to learn quickly his philosophy.
“He does not want me to change as a player. It is the same style – play from the back, build from the back, try to help the guys, try to be in line.
“People know me – I like to be happy, to enjoy my life. We have the best job in the world. The coach comes as a human being. If you’re not happy doing your job it doesn’t matter if you’re a footballer or not. We have to be happy to do our best.
“He is playing a different system. It is his decision. He has many players who can play with four in the back, three in the back, five in the back, so he is the one to decide.
“We are training really hard every single day, double sessions, to learn quickly.
“If we are dedicated every day and doing things every single day in training, especially at the beginning we are trying to learn quickly.”
And as for possible defensive newcomers, he said: “It is a challenge for everybody. It is good to have fantastic players, more than just 11. We have many players that can play in the starting 11, so it is a positive challenge for everybody.”
Willian’s exit from SW6 is drawing closer as three clubs vie for the Brazilian winger, pictured left. Real Madrid are the latest to contact the Blues after Barcelona’s £70m offer was rejected last week. It’s believed upwards of £80m will trigger a deal Ex-Blues’ boss Jose Mourinho is a long-term admirer of Willian and is closely monitoring the situation. The Manchester United manager said at the weekend he is hopeful that at least one of his five targets will arrive at Old Trafford before the transfer window closes on August 9. Real Madrid will hope to spend even more cash to nab Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
The Blues are resigned to losing the Belgium stopper but will hold off selling until they have a top-class replacement on the books. England number one Jordan Pickford is their preferred choice but Joe Hart and Jack Butland are also on their radar.
If Chelsea secure Higuain, then World Cup winner Olivier Giroud, could seek to cash in on his elevated status. He won’t want to play second fiddle to the Argentina hit-man and French club Marseille are keen to take him. Tiemoue Bakayoko could be on his way out of the Bridge having had a torrid second-half to his debut season. and Spanish outfit Sevilla are expected to put in a £40m bid for the Frenchman.
Midfielder Danny Drinkwater is attracting the attention of Crystal Palace and Southampton.
His £35m move from Leicester City last term was hampered by injuries. Behind the scenes at SW6,
Chelsea have promoted two coaches. Ex-Chelsea defender Jon Harley moves up from coaching the very young players to assist Andy Myers at the U18s, while Ed Brand will move from the U18s to be assistant to Joe Edwards at Development squad and U19s level. The Development Squad start their campaign on Tuesday, August 7 against Swindon Town in the EFL Trophy. Kick-off at the County Ground is 7.45pm and tickets can be purchased on the day at the ground.
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