With tonight’s Champions League group stage game in mind, we sat down...
Filipe Luis – Yay Or Nay?
Chelsea have a full-back shaped hole in the squad after bidding farewell to Ashley Cole. Among all the rumoured targets, Filipe Luis of Atlético Madrid is the one the club is seriously interested in. A £12m bid has already been rejected by Atlético and reports suggest Chelsea have increased their offer to a reasonable £15m, still short of the £19m buy-out clause in Luis’ contract.
A product of Figueirense’s youth system, Luis has plied his trade in Netherlands and Spain. When he moved to Europe from his native state, he spent a season at AFC Ajax before becoming a regular feature at Real Madrid Castilla in the 2005/06 season. Following a spell at Deportivo La Coruna which lasted four seasons in which he developed into one of the most reliable left backs in La Liga, Luis moved to Atlético. 127 appearances and a La Liga championship later, Luis looks to be on the move again, this time to Stamford Bridge.
The key behind Atlético’s Championship win last season was their impeccable defense. Luis formed a formidable portion of Atlético’s magnificent back four. Diego Simeone’s men did not just beat teams through pitch perfect counter-attacking moves, but also choked them in possession. Atlético had held a near-perfect shape throughout their season, at least until extra-time in the UEFA Champions League finals.
Filipe Luis is a typical old-school fullback, who emphasizes on defending the goal at all costs. Luis has a strong sense of positioning and is an excellent reader of the game. At 6 ft tall, he is rarely caught out of position or beaten by the opponent. Luis is a very strong tackler. He led the ranks in tackling numbers among the fullbacks across Europe but also counted among the ones who gave away the fewest fouls, having started almost every game for Atlético.
We are discussing Filipe Luis, but seriously, how darn good was Azpilicueta last season, on the opposite side of the pitch!!!
Rodriguez’s aerial duels completion rate every 90 minutes is skyrocketing off the chart, but it is not unique to him. His defense buddies at Wolfsburg have similar numbers. On the contrary, both the left backs from La Liga fared quite low in headed challenges, corroborating to the differences in attacking patterns of both leagues.
Luis, in spite of having a decent pass completion rate, is not a frequent passer.
Eden Hazard was the focal point of Chelsea’s attack last season. Needless to say, Luis must forge a lasting partnership with Hazard over the course of next season to take control of Chelsea’s left flank. Going forward, Luis holds his own. But there is definite scope for improvement.
Rodriguez is sheer handful, when he attacks. And Filipe Luis is equivalent of Branislav Ivanovic when it comes to crossing!
Luis is not at all flashy, but extremely efficient. He might not put in too many wonder crosses from the left wing, but you can trust him to cover for Hazard when the Belgian goes on marauding runs. Luis’ conservative approach and positional sense will contribute to Chelsea’s cause of stopping opponent counter attacks. Luis might not pass as frequently as many other full-backs, but he is a safe passer and releases the ball at a quick pace, leading to counter-attacks.
Chelsea targeted the Brazilian in past as well, when he used to feature for Deportivo. Luis himself admitted that he could not take up Chelsea’s offer in 2009 as he was in negotiations with Barcelona. Chelsea later went on to buy Yuri Zhirkov.
The only downside of the potential deal is Filipe Luis’ age. He will be 29 before the season starts and Chelsea will be forced to look out for another option, a few years down the line. His buy-out value of £19m, combined with the reported £80-85k/week wages is a significant monetary commitment for a player who will have absolutely zero resale value. But there is no denying that Luis is a world-class fullback at the moment who will strengthen Chelsea’s bid to challenge for titles on all fronts. With him in the ranks, Chelsea will possess a three-fullback unit capable of playing at the highest standards!
Atlético have already secured replacements and the case will rest as soon as the clubs agree to a transfer fee. With Luis already agreeing terms, albeit reportedly, Chelsea might soon procure one of the final pieces of the first team’s jigsaw puzzle.
Author’s Note: All data used in this article have been obtained from Squawka & WhoScored, which are powered by Opta.