José Mourinho’s plan for a full-scale assault on the Premier League title took a step closer to being completed on Wednesday as Chelsea confirmed the signing of the Brazil defender Filipe Luís for a fee understood to be around £20m.
After Ashley Cole was unveiled as a Roma player on Tuesday, Filipe Luís has been signed as a direct replacement for the former England defender after helping Atlético Madrid win their first league title since 1996. With the Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois – who is in line to play his first season at Stamford Bridge after three successful years on loan at the Vicente Calderón – the 28-year-old left-back was part of a defence that conceded only 26 league goals last season.
A statement on Chelsea’s website on Wednesday confirmed a fee has been agreed with Atlético but personal terms have still to be resolved, although that is unlikely to be an issue given they have been tracking Filipe Luís since the end of last season.
“Atlético Madrid and Chelsea have reached an agreement to transfer the rights of Filipe Luís, pending a medical with the English club,” said a statement on the Spanish side’s website. “The Brazilian player had told our club at the end of the campaign of his willingness to join the London side.”
His arrival comes a day after Chelsea confirmed the purchase of the Spain striker Diego Costa from Atlético for £32m and takes the club’s spending this summer past the £80m mark, having already signed Cesc Fábregas from Barcelona for £30m and the 19-year-old Croatian Mario Pasalic for £2m from Hajduk Split. With Courtois set to vie with Petr Cech and the midfielder Tiago also likely to follow Filipe Luís and Costa to London on a free transfer, it means Mourinho should have a far superior squad to compete for honours than was the case last season when they finished third in the Premier League and lost to Atlético in the semi-finals of the Champions League.
The striker Demba Ba – who scored the winning goal in the quarter-finals of that competition to help Chelsea come back from a 3-1 first-leg deficit to beat PSG – will not be part of this season’s challenge after he arrived in Turkey on Wednesday to complete his move to Besiktas. The Senegal international was mobbed by fans when he landed at Istanbul and was later pictured wearing a Besiktas shirt.
With Samuel Eto’o having already left the club, Ba’s impending departure could mean Mourinho has decided to keep hold of the Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku after sending him out on loan to West Bromwich Albion and Everton over the past two seasons. The 21-year-old is wanted by Roberto Martínez yet with only Fernando Torres remaining as cover for Costa, there may be an opportunity for Lukaku to stake a claim.
Having endured a miserable World Cup for his adopted country, with Spain eliminated after the group stages, Costa is expected to join up with the rest of the squad next week for the pre-season training camp in Austria.
He is likely to be joined by Fábregas and Filipe Luís, who was not one of Brazil’s World Cup 23, despite being named in their preliminary squad.
With Frank Lampard expected to confirm he has signed a deal with New York City FC in the next few days, that leaves only Cech, the captain John Terry and the midfielder Mikel John Obi from Mourinho’s first spell at the club. Terry – who signed a one-year contract to stay at Stamford Bridge at the end of last season – admitted he is relishing playing alongside Costa after coming up against the striker in last season’s Champions League defeat by Atlético.
“First of all, his movement and his strength are really good – I was really surprised by it,” said Terry, who is now about to enter his 20th year with Chelsea.
“I think everyone remembers the square-up we had in the first 10 minutes of the first leg of our semi-final game against Atlético Madrid last season, after which I thought: ‘Fair play.’ He holds the ball up very well, he has got great movement and he is really physical but he is very clever with his strength and the way he uses his body. He could be a very good signing.”