LONDON: Chelsea's decision to re-sign David Luiz for what they considered to be a fair price for their former player was in keeping with a new policy not to pay well over their valuation of transfer targets, even if it meant missing out on some of them.
During meetings in the last two weeks of the transfer window,
the club felt that signing Luiz, who left the club in the summer of 2014 after the first season of Jose Mourinho's second spell, met most of the requirements they had for a central defender and was a long way ahead of their other options.
They were faced with the prospect of paying more than pounds 60?million for Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly who was highly rated but, Chelsea thought, massively overpriced by the Italian club.
Because of Chelsea's history as the first of the billionaire takeover clubs in the Premier League and a well-earned reputation for paying big fees, there has always been a premium on the price they pay, but the new pounds 8.3 billion television deal has meant that expectations have spiralled out of all control.
The offer of Luiz for pounds 30 million came late in the window at a point where the club were dissatisfied with the options open to them, including loaning Valencia's Aymen Abdennour. They had pushed hard for John Stones the previous summer but had switched their priority signing to Romelu Lukaku at the start of this latest window under the rationale that there would be no way Everton would consent to sell both.
The reality has been that, for the second summer in a row, Chelsea have been unable to convince Everton to sell them one of their leading players, albeit this time with a new, more ambitious owner in charge of the Merseyside club. It says something about the changing balance of wealth and power that they are unable to get these kind of deals done as they once did.
The conventional approach over the past 10 years has been to identify three targets and sign one of them, although that is changing now and no one would pretend at Chelsea that Luiz was among their original three picks for a new centre-back.
AC Milan priced Alessio Romagnoli at more than Chelsea's pounds 30 million offer and in another targeted position, Roma would not sell the Belgium midfielder Radja Nainggolan. Ideally, Chelsea prefer players with buyout clauses that at least gives them an idea of what they can afford to pay and although N'Golo Kante's clause was not straightforward, it gave the club something to work on.
In the case of Luiz, the notion of a debate about whether they should re-sign a former player once again, and what that said about the club was as far from
their minds as to be considered irrelevant. Luiz was by far the best option available to them in terms of ability, experience and price and, in their judgment, not signing him because they had sold him once already would have been perverse.
The club know that it looks strange, and the fact that it has happened before with Nemanja Matic and that they tried to do the same with Lukaku makes them appear to have no long-term strategy. They do have a long-term strategy, which is to back the manager they have in place, as they did with Mourinho when he sanctioned the sale of Luiz and now Antonio Conte when he agreed that re-signing the Brazilian was the best option open to them.
Conte, like Mourinho, has the final say on players once scouting and analysis has been done and the deal has been priced and checked out. He was offered the chance to take Luiz and did so when confronted with the other options in the last week of the transfer window.
Luiz came from a club, Paris St-Germain, who were not trying to squeeze every last penny out of the deal and with whom Chelsea had experience of dealing with in the past. Of course, Luiz had his flaws but at this point of the market there was no perfect scenario, just a series of deals that all had potential disadvantages. With Luiz, at least Chelsea knew what the disadvantages would be.
The real pity of this transfer window for Chelsea is that they have had to sign Marcos Alonso as cover at left-back when they have in recent years allowed Ryan Bertrand and Filipe Luis - both better options - to leave.
Unlike Luiz and PSG, there would be no prospect of Southampton permitting Chelsea to re-sign Bertrand for less than they sold him. At just 27, and a homegrown England international, Bertrand would be ideal but that is a decision from a past regime the club will just have to live with.