Three top officials from FC Barcelona met in New York City this week to discuss the club’s transfer strategy, and the outcome saw Luiz rise to the top of Barca’s list of targets for upcoming summer transfer window, according to the Mail.
“Barca coach Tito Vilanova, who is currently on sick leave, met with sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta, technical secretary Albert Valentín and football co-ordinator Narcis Julia in the United States,” the report says.
“Vilanova is keen to strengthen his defense despite club captain Carles Puyol only recent signing a new deal at the Nou Camp and 25-year-old Luiz is seen as a long-term replacement, despite the Brazil center half struggling for consistency at Stamford Bridge this season.”
Luiz has endured much criticism since he moved to Chelsea in January 2011. The Blues paid Portugal’s Benfica £21.3 million ($33 million) for the Brazilian defender, but he struggled to adapt to the pace and rigors of the English game at the outset.
However, his fortunes improved along with Chelsea’s in the latter part of the 2011-12 season and he ended the campaign with FA Cup and UEFA Champions League winners’ medals. His good form carried into the current season despite playing in a midfield role at times under new Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez. Luiz has done a good job in front of the defense, but his future for club and country (he is a first-choice defender for Brazil’s national team) lies at the back.
Barcelona has soared for much of the season. The Spanish club is in contention to win league, cup and European honors. But defense remains a point of concern. Puyol and Gerard Pique are the only two specialist center backs in the first team. Alex Song, Javier Mascherano and Sergio Busquets have filled in at times this season, but the three have spent most of their careers as midfielders.
It’s unknown how Chelsea will react to an approach for Luiz. The Premier League club would most likely want to recoup the value of its investment. Adding Luiz would show that Barcelona is serious about improving its defense. After all, it’s been three-and-a-half years since Barca signed a specialist central defender — Dmytro Chygrynskiy. The Ukrainian defender only lasted on season at the Camp Nou, and they’ve made do (quite well) ever since.