Chelsea are confident of completing the transfer of David Luiz from Benfica within the next 48 hours, in a deal worth £21.5million.
The centre-half’s signing is part of an attempt by Carlo Ancelotti to revive Chelsea’s season after the manager admitted that his team have failed to live up to expectations for the past four months.
The champions have not won away in seven games but Ancelotti goes back even further, to the game at home to Arsenal on 3 October, to pinpoint a good performance that brought a victory.
That win had moved Chelsea clear at the top of the Premier League but their worst run of form in 15 years has left them trailing the leaders, Manchester United, by 10 points.
Talks will resume today with Benfica’s president, Luís Filipe Vieira, aimed at securing Luiz, with the possibility remaining that a young player could move in the opposite direction, most likely on loan, as part of the deal.
The Portuguese club want one of Chelsea’s young players, such as left-back Patrick van Aanholt or centre-half Jeffrey Bruma, on a permanent deal. Chelsea, however, are interested only in a loan arrangement until the end of the season.
Benfica have also enquired about the availability of striker Salomon Kalou being used as a makeweight in the deal, but Chelsea are ruling out letting the 25-year-old Ivory Coast international leave under such terms.
Luiz was omitted from the Benfica squad for the 4-2 victory over Nacional on Saturday, a clear indication that his club are resigned to losing his services.
Ancelotti will be anxious that the 23-year-old Brazil international, who will be cup-tied in the Champions League, is joining a club who can still realistically retain the Premier League title.
Asked to identify the last time he had been satisfied with his team’s display and the result, Ancelotti said: “Against Arsenal at home, when we played well. I was happy with the way we played at Birmingham last month but not with the result [a 1-0 defeat]. Three and a half months is too long. Too long.”
Chelsea can take some comfort in the fact that they are still to play United twice, as well as Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur at home.
“We play them and Liverpool at home, and those five games will be key,” Ancelotti said.
“We have to win them. But the fact that there are five teams going for the title is good for those of us chasing. There is more competition, and therefore more possibility for the teams at the top to drop points. We will try everything to do win the three competitions we are still in.”