Chelsea Transfer Rumour: Croatian Defender to Replace David Luiz

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By IBTimes Staff Reporter | December 20, 2012 7:25 PM EST

Chelsea have stepped up interest in Lyon £6m Croatian defender Dejan Lovren, according to the Metro.

The European champions put in a lacklustre performance in the final of the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan, which they lost 0-1 to Brazilians Corinthians. And a mini mid-season revival under interim manager Rafael Benitez threatened to go awry, when they conceded the lead in Wednesday evening's League Cup quarter final to Leeds United.

However, the Blues stormed back to put five goals past Neil Warnock's side, at Elland Road, and book a semi final date with Premier League club Swansea City.

The emphatic reply notwithstanding, it is believed Benitez is considering a move for Lovren to help shore up the club's leaky defence; the Stamford Bridge side have not kept a clean sheet since the consecutive home draws in late November. And Brazilian centre back David Luiz is likely to be the man scarified.

Luiz transferred to west London from Portuguese club Benfica and although he impressed initially, it is believed Benitez considers him a defensive liability and will look to either return him to Benfica or make him available for transfer; Russians CSKA Moscow have been credited with an interest in the £10m-rated Brazilian, the Metro adds.

Meanwhile, the 23 year old Lovren, whom the Daily Mail linked to Liverpool last season, is contracted to Lyon until 2016.

Benitez Hails Chelsea Spirit

Meanwhile, Benitez has praised his side after the 5-1 win at Leeds. The London club conceded the lead to Luciano Becchio just before half-time. However, five second half strikes (Juan Mata, Victor Moses, Eden Hazard, Branislav Ivanovic and Fernando Torres) sealed a semi final spot for the visitors.

"I thought the performance was fantastic. You can see that in every game the team is a little bit stronger. At half-time I told the players to keep doing the same things - keep the ball, play a high tempo, press and when we are in possession pass the ball as quickly as possible... it is just a matter of time and confidence and trying to play the game we wanted to play," the former Liverpool boss explained

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