Chelsea will have to fight to keep David Luiz this summer, with Barcelona preparing to offer £35million for the Brazil defender.
The Catalan club have long been admirers of the 24-year-old centre half, dating back to when he was impressing at Benfica. In 2010 he was player of the year in the Portuguese League.
Barcelona see Luiz as a long-term replacement for Carles Puyol, 34 next month and increasingly injury-prone.
Coach Pep Guardiola has regularly been forced to turn to Javier Mascherano as a makeshift centre half, and he impressed there during their successful Champions League campaign last season.
Luiz, who joined Chelsea in January last year for £21m, is seen by Barcelona as a player whose style would suit them perfectly, especially alongside Gerard Pique, and they will make every attempt to lure him away this summer.
Chelsea are sure to resist Barcelona’s advances. The frizzy-haired defender is a favourite with the Stamford Bridge crowd and has hit back at criticism over his defending this season with an impressive run of form.
Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville famously described him as playing as if he was ‘controlled by a 10-year-old in the crowd on a PlayStation’.
But Luiz’s performance in the Champions League victory over Napoli last week was considered to be his best in a Chelsea shirt.
Owner Roman Abramovich may also refuse to sell, given that skipper John Terry is 31 and troubled more and more by injury.
Terry missed Wednesday’s defeat at Manchester City with a calf injury but looks set to return at home to Tottenham on Saturday.