Barcelona are prepared to test Chelsea's resolve to hang on to their Brazilian defender David Luiz, who is attracting interest from the Spanish club one week before the end of the transfer window.
Luiz, 25, is valued at about £30m by the London club who say in private that they have no immediate plans to sell a player they bought in January of last year. Luiz is currently injured and missed the Premier League win over Reading on Wednesday night, having first announced that he would not be playing on Twitter on the morning of the game.
In other Chelsea transfer news last night, Wigan confirmed that they have accepted a fifth bid from the Blues for Nigerian forward Victor Moses, understood to be in the region of £9m.
Yesterday afternoon, Luiz tweeted a photograph of himself on a private plane declaring that he was preparing to fly to Barcelona. The club maintained that he was attending a Nike event in the city yesterday and had permission to do so from Roberto Di Matteo, despite being injured. The player has divided opinion at the club since he joined from Benfica for a deal worth around £25m. An unorthodox defender who has been prone to make the occasional mistake, he remains popular with the supporters. There is understood to be strong interest, however, in Luiz from Barcelona and there are elements at the club who would regard a profit on the player who is not a guaranteed starter as good business.
Barcelona, who played Real Madrid at home in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup last night, have already signed Alexandre Song as an option to play at centre-back. With Javier Mascherano also co-opted into the position from midfield, it is one area in which their options are limited. Selling Luiz would not necessarily leave Chelsea short on central defenders with Branislav Ivanovic having told Di Matteo that he wants to be considered for a more central role.
In Luiz's absence on Wednesday night, the England international Gary Cahill scored Chelsea's second goal in a 4-2 win over Reading in a performance that, while promising in attacking terms, did pose questions about the team's defensive discipline. "I certainly wouldn't say we were boring, there was some exciting stuff," he said. "I thought [Eden] Hazard was phenomenal and we looked dangerous. It's exciting to see them boys playing their stuff.
"Maybe defensively we might be a little bit more exposed. That is something we at the back have got to organise and try to deal with."
Maybe defensively we might be a little bit more exposed. That is something we at the back have to organise.