Following a summer dominated by protracted transfer sagas, of which Chelsea have played the part of aggressors in their chase for Wayne Rooney, Jose Mourinho is bracing for the hunters to become the hunted as Barcelona attempt to unsettle David Luiz.
The Catalan club showed their intent on Wednesday by lodging a hefty £35m first bid for the Brazilian defender, with Chelsea equally as determined in their immediate and outright rejection.
Mourinho was typically straight-talking when he advised the Spanish champions to move on to their second choice defensive target, insisting that there was “no chance” that he’d allow his key man to move to the Nou Camp.
With Andre Schurrle, Marco van Ginkel and Mark Schwarzer having arrived at Stamford Bridge with little fuss over the summer, Mourinho is in full pre-season preparation mode with his expensively-assembled squad, who many fancy to challenge both Manchester clubs for the Premier League title this season.
Such is the strength of their squad – and Mourinho’s reputation – that the Blues are 11/5 favourites to claim their first title since Carlo Ancelotti guided Abramovich’s club to league success in 2010.
So the last thing Mourinho will wish to deal with at this stage is any doubt among the loyalty and intentions of any of his squad members, which is why he attempted to quell the attention around a potential Luiz departure as soon as he could.
However Barcelona remain keen on the defender as a long-term replacement for the ageing captain Carlos Puyol, with new boss Gerardo Martino seeing him as a perfect foil for fellow centre-back Gerard Pique.
Luiz, along with Juan Mata, were surprisingly linked as potential makeweights for Manchester United in any deal for Rooney, something which seemed to come as a surprise to the defender, who will no doubt be tempted by a move to the Nou Camp.
With Chelsea not exactly needing the income, and Mourinho not keen on finding a replacement three weeks before the transfer window shuts, the club will likely reject any further bids from Barcelona.
But should Luiz follow the lead of Luis Suarez and, ironically, Wayne Rooney, with an expression of his desire to make a move, Chelsea could find themselves embroiled in another transfer saga, only with the shoe on the other foot this time round.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.