David Luiz has left Chelsea for London rivals Arsenal after new manager Frank Lampard couldn’t promise the Brazilian first-team football with the likes of Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen, Kurt Zouma and Fikayo Tomori also at the club.
Many might have believed that Luiz was amongst the favourites to start under Lampard after he made more Premier League appearances than any other of their centre back options last season.
He also scored more goals, earned more wins, more clean sheets and won the most tackles of all the other names Chelsea could line up with next season.
There is no doubt, then, that Luiz’s departure has left a vacant spot for a starting Chelsea central defender, but which of the four will fill that void?
Zouma spent last season on loan at Everton and impressed under Marco Silva. He made 32 Premier League appearances last season, winning 10 clean sheets and scoring two goals.
Following his steady performances, it came as no surprise to Chelsea that Everton were very keen on signing the defender on a permanent deal. Perhaps the forgotten man at Chelsea, many believed that Zouma would be on his way.
However, Lampard showed a great reluctance to let him go and seemed very adamant on keeping the 24-year-old.
Earlier in the window, Lampard said: “I want him here, simple as that. We are competitive with the centre-backs we have in the team and he had a very good season at Everton, and I can understand why they want him. He’s a Chelsea player and I want him.”
This is all the reassurance the Frenchman needs ahead of the new season… high praise from the Chelsea manager and legend.
Currently, Rudiger is the midst of returning from injury but looks well on his way to getting back to full fitness after starting training with the first team a week ago.
His injury may mean that Lampard hasn’t seen as much of the German as he has of the other candidates for the role but that won’t take anything away from his incredible ability.
Rudiger was arguably Chelsea’s most consistent defender last season along with the ever-reliable Cesar Azpilicueta. Like Luiz, he was Chelsea’s starting central defender last season and is likely to continue that role in the upcoming campaign under Lampard.
Luiz leaving should only really secure Rudiger’s place in the first team.
The Danish defender struggled with injuries last season, leaving him with only eight Premier League appearances. He only kept three clean sheets and had the worst successful tackles percentage of all his competitors at 40%.
He has, though, been a regular in Lampard’s pre-season side and has somewhat impressed with his stern performances. At only 23, perhaps his young age – combined with his already wealthy big-game experience – is exactly why Lampard wishes to invest in the defender.
Of all the defenders at Chelsea, Christensen is probably the one who will benefit most from Luiz leaving the club.
As the season draws closer and closer, Tomori is probably at the bottom of the Chelsea pecking order. For the young, England Under 21 international, Luiz’s departure won’t change that.
However, it will move him one step closer to that first-team spot. With Luiz out, Tomori will move from fifth to fourth choice centre-back which puts him right in line to make his first professional senior appearance for the club as a Premier League substitute or in cup competitions.
Tomori has, of course, already played for and impressed under Lampard at Derby County, defending the Rams into the Championship play-off final.
The defender won the Player of the Year at the club on his loan spell and debut season for Derby and was well-praised by Lampard who will have the youngster on his mind whenever he comes to pick his starting 11.
Chelsea are in the Champions League this season and will have to rotate. Tomori will more than likely feature as a squad-rotational player.
Ultimately, Luiz leaving Chelsea means that every player is pushed up one space. Tomori will come into the frame in cup competitions, Christensen may get his chance to stamp his authority and Rudiger will have to find a new regular partner.