David Luiz’s £32m return to Chelsea has sparked a notable divide in camps across the mainstream media.
One half consider the deal to be yet another transfer masterstroke by the Blues’ crack negotiation team, having re-signed a player for approximately £18m less than what they received for him two years ago.
On the other side of the argument, those questioning the move point to Luiz’s alleged deterioration as the reason why Paris Saint-Germain let him leave, with French journalist Julien Laurens labelling the Brazilian as a ‘liability’ before calling him a ‘worse player’ than when he was last based in London.
It’s a damning critique and one that certainly lends befuddled fans an explanation as to why PSG would agree to sell a frontline defender at a significantly reduced sum without sourcing a replacement, but Chelsea’s splendid track record when it comes to bringing back former favourites should quash any overriding concerns.
Premier League homecomings are a relatively common phenomenon and, obviously, some players have savoured better second stints with former clubs than others.
However, when the Blues pave the way for a terrace icon to come back, results have always vindicated their decision to do so.
Jose Mourinho was ultimately sacked for the second time after a farcical 2015/16 campaign, but having won the Premier League title the season before – a feat which Chelsea are priced at 9/2 to repeat this term – in addition to an EFL Cup, the Portuguese’s tenure was not without its high points.
Part of Mourinho’s double-winning squad was legendary striker Didier Drogba, who helped the Blues land three domestic crowns, two EFL Cups, four FA Cups and a Champions League between 2004 and 2012 and returned for a one-season swansong in July 2014. The Ivorian bagged another two winners’ medals before jetting off to the MLS.
Owing to his advancing years, Drogba played a bit-part role in said squad, unlike Serbian destroyer Nemanja Matic, who was re-signed from Benfica for £22m after leaving as part of the original deal to bring Luiz to west London. Matic barely featured in his maiden tenure, but was universally lauded as a key component in the aforementioned double-winning campaign.
Having fallen out of favour last time around, the Serb is now firmly back in the fold as he and N’Golo Kante shield a sturdy-looking Blues backline under the tutelage of feted tactician Antonio Conte.
It’s a system tailored to allow a centre-back to shine, which will see Luiz to flourish as the fourth Chelsea homecoming hit of recent campaigns.