Hair for heir? Barcelona step up Luiz pursuit as Puyol prepares to quit
Chelsea’s cultured defender David Luiz will be the subject of a reported £25m bid from Barcelona in the summer as the Catalan giants renew their interest, after it emerged club captain Carles Puyol is quitting.
Reports in the British press claim 7/2 Champions League second-favourites Barca want to get the Brazilian on their books before he plays at the World Cup on home soil in June. The La Liga champions tested the water with an offer last summer only to see it knocked back by Blues boss Jose Mourinho.
Barcelona skipper since 2004, 35-year-old Puyol shocked the world by announcing he would leave the Nou Camp at the end of this season, despite having two years left on his contract. He came through the ranks of the Catalan giants and has been on their books since 1995.
The latter stages of Spain centurion Puyol’s career have been dogged by knee injuries. These caused him to miss the Euro 2012 triumph, but he went to two European Championships and three World Cups – with a winners’ medal from each tournament in 2008 and 2010 respectively.
“After the last two operations it has been difficult for me to recover the level I need to be able to continue here, more than I expected,” Puyol said. “That is why I have taken this decision. There are three months of the season left and I won’t be giving up.”
Puyol is closing on two major Barcelona milestones. He needs to play seven more matches to rack up 600 senior club appearances and turn out in eight La Liga games to reach 400.
With Barca, Puyol has won six Spanish top-flight titles, two Copa del Rey trophies and three Champions League crowns.
Luiz, 26, has played second fiddle to England centre back Gary Cahill and Chelsea club captain in defence at Stamford Bridge this season.
That means Mourinho has occasionally deployed him in the holding role, but opportunities to play there are now limited too after the Blues brought Nemanja Matic back from Benfica in January.
Any potential sale of Luiz would appear to indicate that Chelsea are willing to offer Terry, now 33, another one-year contract extension.
St-Etienne man-mountain Kurt Zouma is already a Blues player, but will arrive properly at the Bridge next season as Mourinho loaned him back to Ligue 1 outfit St-Etienne in January despite purchasing him then.
Other options at centre half for Chelsea include Serbia skipper Branislav Ivanovic, who presently plays at right back, and young Czech defender Tomas Kalas.
The Blues are 5/4 favourites to win the Premier League this term, which they currently lead by four points and 12/1 shots to lift their second Champions League in three seasons.