Never go back they say; well, to hell with them. He’s back. David Luiz has returned and boy are we pleased?
I am and I’ll tell you why. I always had faith in Jose and when he sold Luiz and got £50m for him we all chuckled and thought the man was a genius. At the time I was sad. I was upset that there appeared to be no place for a maverick in Jose’s brave new world but as he was going to be our manager for the next decade or so, I accepted that. My main sadness was the loss of the next Chelsea captain as has proved the case since with no one showing themselves as a true leader to replace John Terry.
We all knew that David was liable to make mistakes but we wished him well. We were pleased to see him when we played PSG in the Champions league. The first game at Chelsea, he scored a great goal but ultimately we went out because we were very poor that night. The next visit to the Bridge the following year, there was less love, tantamount to hostility.
That night when he came back to the Bridge for the first time, after Ibra was sent off, he apparently approached the Chelsea bench and Jose, and roared in English: “Look now. With 10 men... We will beat you here, on this pitch with just 10 men.” He was immense and they duly did.
Many on social media referred back to his goal scoring celebration that night, which were unacceptable; but he is quoted as saying “I said I would not celebrate if I scored but I am sorry, I could not control my emotions. Chelsea have always respected me and I respect them a lot but I am sorry, I could not control myself.”
So how did he do whilst in France? It was widely reported that on BBC Radio 5 Live last night, the respected French journalist Julien Laurens said Luiz “hasn’t improved and is coming back a worse player”. As a PSG fan, Laurent said he was a liability and said that PSG were glad to get rid of him.
Brutal words but the reality is that he returns a back-to-back double-winner in France, a World Cup semi finalist who has spent all that time at the side of Thiago Silva, one of the best defenders in the world. So how has this experience made him a worse player? Time will tell but if Luiz has a weakness, it is concentration, and playing in a league where you win every week would not have helped him. His place in the PSG team was under threat this season. His last game was not good: PSG actually lost 3-1 to Monaco, he conceded a penalty and was hauled off after 62 minutes! I have read the fans loved him, as did Silva and his manager Blanc, but now it was time for him to move on.
So he is back. What are we getting? Well, first and foremost we are getting a really good footballer. Not the greatest defender but a versatile player who plays well in defence. The major difference this time however is that he and the rest of the defence have Kante in front of them, which will mean they are now less exposed.
The next thing about this guy is that he is a leader, on and off the pitch. Last season was a disaster but too many times the players, when they were actually playing, looked around for someone to lead ... but no one was there. That wouldn’t have been the case had Luiz been on the pitch.
The other major plus with his signing is that he knows the club, the fans and the Premier league. No settling in, no adjustment — he is home. That in itself is a priceless commodity.
There is no doubt that the club tried desperately to bring in reinforcements in defence. So to end up with Luiz, obviously not their first choice, for a fair price — it could be said they rescued a bad position. He will be a good foil for Zouma when he returns and of course could cover for Kante when he is injured or suspended. Bringing the ball out of defence, pinging 60 yard balls will suit Conte’s plans going forward, especially if we switch to three central defenders.
He is also a goal threat. His goal at Craven Cottage has been shown on loop by Sky. On that night, I was using a Fulham season ticket. I was sitting right behind the flight of the ball and watched it go in. I had to sit on my hands but like many of the people who sat around me, I politely applauded. Obviously I wanted to scream and shout but thought better of it.
So why did the club struggle so badly in getting defenders in during this window? Well, principally and in some respects honourably, they wouldn’t let themselves be ripped-off by paying ridiculous prices for average defenders. I also think that had they not mucked about their attempt to buy John Stones last year, this would not have been an issue. Also, the club did not help themselves with their ridiculous loan system. Christiansen is getting better with every game he plays away from the club — a two-year loan deal with no recall just seems ridiculous and the chances are he won’t want to come back.
I am still at a loss to understand why Ake is on loan when he provides cover in 3 positions. I also do not understand why Kalas has never got a look in. Lets face it, loaning out 38 players is mad and I will never understand what the plan is.
So we have David Luiz and Marcos Alonso to bolster our defence. I think that we all hope that this left back is a keeper. People have been snobby about Alonso’s previous unremarkable career in the Premier league, ignoring his age at the time or his spell at Fiorentina. Again this is a position of the club’s making — two words: Luis and Bertrand.
So a successful transfer window? Well any window which includes the signing of Kante is successful and the return of the Geezer is icing on the cake.
Clayton Beerman is a writer, blogger, podder. Follow him on Twitter at @goalie59; listen to him on The Chelsea Fancast; buy and read his book “Palpable Discord: A year of drama and dissent at Chelsea” published by Gate 17.