In a season that ends with a mouth-watering World Cup in Brazil, this is not the time for a regular international to lose favour at his club.
Unfortunately for David Luiz, that’s a situation the Brazilian international finds himself in, with Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho having granted the frizzy-haired defender only five league appearances this season so far.
Despite having thrived under Rafa Benitez last season (or perhaps, given Mourinho’s distain for his former rival, even because of this), Mourinho has not allowed the maverick former Benfica man to flourish in the same way.
Although a knee injury has not helped, John Terry and Gary Cahill have formed the Special One’s preferred central partnership, while with the defensive midfield ranks brimming with the likes of Mikel, Essien, Ramires and the increasingly-withdrawn Lampard, Luiz has found few openings further up the pitch either.
It’s why, after initial interest from Barcelona in the summer, the Blues are finally prepared to let Luiz seek pastures new, with the Catalan club again leading the chase.
With boss Gerardo Martino needing more defensive options to cover for and put pressure on Carlos Puyol and Gerard Pique, Luiz will look to make the move to Spain in January. But one player who may be heading the other way is Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos, whose situation is not too dissimilar to that of Luiz.
Despite having played alongside Pepe at the heart of Carlo Ancelotti’s defence for much of the season, there are signs that the relationship with the Italian boss is under some strain, following Ramos’ sending off in the Champions League in midweek.
With murmurings of discontent already being reported in the Spanish press surrounding a lack of a new contract offer for the defender, Ancelotti was seen berating the defender after the latest red card of his Madrid career.
The suggestion is that Ramos is behind French international Raphael Varane and Pepe in the pecking order for a central defensive position, with Ramos again likely to revert to right back or midfield once Varane returns from injury.
As Ramos’ frustration with his new boss continues to bubble under, expect Chelsea to be among those to register their interest as early as January, despite a summer move most likely.
Mourinho’s fractious relationship with several of his former Madrid players was well documented, but with Ramos’ class undoubted, and Mourinho’s ability to heal previous wounds shown through his thriving relationship with Samuel Eto’o, Ramos looks to be the man identified to fill the David Luiz-shaped gap at Stamford Bridge.