Fernando Torres and David Luiz look set to be the surprise casualties of Jose Mourinho’s return to Chelsea after he informed owner Roman Abramovich that both are surplus to requirements.
Mourinho’s appointment has yet to be announced by the west London club but that hasn’t stopped him from evaluating the playing squad at Stamford Bridge and the 50-year-old has determined that Torres and Luiz can leave the club despite both playing significant roles in helping the Blues to third in the Premier League and success in the Europa League.
After missing out on Atletico Madrid striker Falcao, who is now bound to join big spending Monaco, the Special One wants to freshen up the Blues’ attack and Fiorentina striker Stevan Jovetic is at the top of his wanted list, while he is expected to retain the services of Romelu Lukaku after he impressed on loan at West Brom last season.
They are expected to intensify their interest in Montenegrin international Jovetic in the next couple of weeks but will have to ward off London rivals Arsenal, who are long-term admirers of the talented 23-year-old.
It all means that means Torres, in spite of scoring 22 goals last term and equalising in the Europa League final against Benfica, will be sold just two-and-a-half years after his record breaking £50 million switch from Liverpool in January 2011.
A swift reunion with former Chelsea interim boss Rafael Benitez now appears to be on the cards for the 29-year-old Spaniard following his appointment at Napoli. The Serie A club are certain to lose star striker Edinson Cavani this summer and Benitez wants Torres to plug the gap having initially brought him to the Premier League in 2007 while manager at Liverpool.
And while Abramovich is willing to sanction the sale of Torres knowing that Mourinho is targeting Jovetic, the decision to dispense with Luiz hasn’t gone down well with the Russian billionaire.
The Brazilian developed into a cult hero at Stamford Bridge and forged a reputation as one of Chelsea’s most consistent performers making him a firm favourite with the fans. Whether filling in for captain John Terry in defence or anchoring the midfield the 26-year-old’s was been a beacon of stability last season and scored a number of crucial goals to help the club to Champions League qualification.
But Mourinho doesn’t view Luiz, who was once described by Gary Neville as “being controlled by a 10-year-old on a PlayStation”, as a key member of his squad makeup and wants to offload him to free up space and transfer funds in order to bring in a player that meets his requirements.
Reports suggest Spanish champions Barcelona have been alerted to his potential availability and are preparing a £30 million bid to bring him to the Nou Camp. It’s thought the Catalan giants are assessing their defensive options this summer and having released Eric Abidal this week want Luiz with a view to eventually replacing club captain Carlos Puyol, who turned 35 in April, when he eventually hangs up his boots.