Three reasons why Chelsea should keep Filipe Luis
Jonathan Hogan examines why Chelsea should keep hold off Atletico Madrid target Filipe Luis
Strength in depth
When Chelsea negotiated the £15.6m deal last summer to take Filipe Luis to the club from then-Champions League runners-up Atletico Madrid, few would have predicted he would spend most of the season warming the bench. In his first season at Stamford Bridge, Filipe Luis found himself as second-choice to Cesar Azpilicueta, limited to nine league starts and a total of 26 appearances in all competitions. The truth is Luis’ limited opportunity has been more as a result of the outstanding form and consistency of Azpilicueta than any traceable decline in Luis’ own abilities. Last term, much of Chelsea’s success was built off the foundation of a solid back four in front of the excellent Thibaut Courtois and the strength in depth that meant when any one of those in the back four was unavailable there was a ready-made replacement to step in. The Chelsea squad is among the elite in terms of depth not only in English, but European football, and Filipe Luis is a significant part of that. With so many games throughout a modern European season for a club like Chelsea – including the domestic league campaign, the domestic cups and Champions League – to challenge on all fronts requires the strength in depth that Chelsea currently have at their disposal, a strength in depth which few can match. There have been few better left-backs in Europe over the past few years than Azpilicueta and Filipe Luis; to have the two of them in the one squad provides a safety-net in the event of an injury to the other and that is a luxury Chelsea should not forgo without a fight.
At 29 and with four seasons playing for Atletico Madrid under his belt before arriving at Stamford Bridge, Filipe Luis has the experience and dependability to fit with a squad of champions. He can be called upon whenever he is required without any worries about the situation as would perhaps be the case for a younger more inexperienced full-back, not already tried and tested at the top level. When it comes to the Champions League knockout rounds that experience could prove crucial if Azpilicueta were to miss out through injury or suspension.
Chelsea have been linked with 20-year-old Abdul Baba Rahman who had a terrific season for Augsburg last term but is far from the proven article Filipe Luis represents at full-back. They would also have to fight off Roma to land the German youngster’s signature. Even should they do that, Rahman is far more inexperienced and would be thrust into the Premier League with a lot to learn in a short space of time if he were to fill the role of Luis. Indeed it’s a role Chelsea would struggle to fill with a player of the same quality, particularly as it is unlikely that Azpilicueta will be displaced as first-choice anytime soon while experienced European full-backs are few-and-far between. To push on in the Champions League this time around and defend their domestic crown, Mourinho’s side cannot afford to relinquish the defensive stability and depth in squad which aided them so well last term. Chelsea’s title rivals would certainly be quite happy to see them let Luis go.