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May 23, 2014

Does PSG's move for David Luiz represent value for money?

David Luiz is set to link up with fellow Brazilians including Alex and Lucas Moura at PSG.

Speculation on Friday morning suggested that Paris Saint-Germain were preparing a mammoth transfer swoop for Chelsea's Brazil international David Luiz. By the evening, the French champions officially confirmed an agreement for the 27-year-old and that he is set to join the club when the transfer window opens on June 10.

After a whirlwind set of events, PSG have opened the transfer market for summer business ahead of time. Early estimates put the figure somewhere between 40-50 million euros, but it is reported that the side from the French capital have paid more than the 42 million euros they did to secure Thiago Silva from AC Milan in 2012, making Luiz the most expensive defender in football history. Acting sporting director Olivier Letang and club doctor Eric Rolland were dispatched to the Brazilian national team's base in order to complete the necessary medical tests and paperwork, with PSG looking to seal the deal swiftly so that the player is able to focus on the World Cup on home soil this summer.

As far as Les Parisiens are concerned, they are getting a versatile player who is capable of playing both in defence and defensive midfield, but can also be of use from set pieces and has the ability to drive play forward from the back. Although Luiz came in for criticism at times this season -- particularly after a poor performance in the first leg of PSG's Champions League quarterfinal double-header with Chelsea -- he remains highly rated by many.

Indeed, the biggest question over this move concerns the player's price tag and not the player's ability. Just one week after UEFA officially announced its financial fair play (FFP) sanctions, PSG's signing of Luiz is consistent with president Nasser al-Khelaifi's vow that the club will continue to spend.

What was clear in the FFP settlement document, though, was that PSG would not be allowed to exceed their pre-Luiz wage bill. This move now makes a raft of summer departures from Parc des Princes more likely than they were before the Brazilian's arrival and -- with PSG after as many as three more players this summer according to coach Laurent Blanc -- more will have to make way for any potential new recruits.

Luiz's arrival in the French capital almost certainly spells the end for his compatriot Alex's time at the club. The 31-year-old is a free agent at the end of next month and had been expected to remain in Paris, but his fellow Brazilian's signing means that he is no longer guaranteed first-team football and PSG might view him as too expensive to keep as a reserve.

David Luiz is set to sign for PSG in a big-money deal.
David Luiz is set to sign for PSG in a big-money deal.

Marquinhos' future at the club will now also be under intense scrutiny with the 35 million-euro defender third choice at present. The 20-year-old has made good progress with PSG this season, but now sees his potential route into the first team blocked by compatriots Silva and Luiz. The former AS Roma man is admittedly still raw and needs to continue to progress little by little, but will be waiting for an injury or suspension to one of Silva or Luiz to hand him a chance. There is the possibility that Blanc will move the youngster to right-back at the expense of Gregory van der Wiel, but Barcelona's Dani Alves is thought to be another transfer target this summer.

Considering that PSG's defensive unit is rapidly becoming exclusively Brazilian, perhaps a move for the likes of FC Porto's Eliaquim Mangala -- a Portuguese-speaking France international who hails from Paris -- would have arguably made more sense, as his the fee commanded for the centre-back might have been more reasonable.

What does this mean for Les Parisiens' pursuit of Chelsea's Eden Hazard then? On the face of it, PSG paying Jose Mourinho's side 50 million euros ends their chase for the Belgium international in its tracks. How can you pay the club that possess your most coveted transfer target such a massive fee -- one that essentially ends their FFP concerns -- and still expect them to part with a talent like Hazard?

Luiz is a good replacement for Alex as Silva's central defensive partner and definitely a step up in quality -- particularly with the Champions league in mind -- but the reported size of the fee involved makes little sense. As a result of the move, PSG now possess the three most expensive central defenders in the history of football. One of the trio could end being frustrated by their lack of playing time next season.

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