Thanks to a turn of phrase in the Friday edition of L’Equipe, there was a bizarre story making the Twitter rounds on Friday that David Luiz held a knife to PSG technical director Patrick Kluivert’s neck in order to force his move to Chelsea in the final days of the summer transfer window.
David Luiz and a knife sounds utterly terrifying https://t.co/akH04R9A8v— Metro Sport (@Metro_Sport) February 3, 2017
Of course, holding the knife to someone’s throat in the figurative sense simply means that you’re putting pressure on that person to do something (this is hardly an exclusive phrase to French). This seems painfully obvious; though there’s probably is some non-zero chance that David Luiz actually used a knife to threaten a man and didn’t get charged by a criminal offense. In one of the many multiverses, that actually happened. Not in our universe, but maybe in another one.
So what did happen in our universe? David Luiz had a terrible start to the season with PSG (who, it should be noted, are still not winning their one-team league), and it seemed like he was about to lose his starting spot to the younger Marquinhos. Chelsea stepped in at the right time and the whole thing got done in nearly a blink of an eye. PSG weren’t willing to sell at first, but David Luiz wanted to return and that was that. There were probably no knives involved.
The move raised many eyebrows, so when Conte told everyone that he saw some of the best of Leonardo Bonucci (personality and technical ability) and Andrea Barzagli (strength and physical aggression) in the Playstation-playing 10-year-old Sideshow
Bob Dave, I think most of us just dismissed that as fluff for a new signing and putting a positive spin on what in many ways seemed like a panic-buy after two months of failing to secure defensive transfer targets (see also: Marcos Alonso).
And yet here we are, six months later, and David Luiz is being touted as a player of the season candidate and even front-runner. Looks like Conte was right after all! Talking to ESPN Brasil after the game on Saturday, he revealed that it was all part of the plan.
"I wanted David Luiz in my team because I always saw in him great quality as a defender, but also a great personality and great technique with the ball. I don't want to judge his past."
"But the first time I spoke with him I said 'for me you are one of the best in the world'. I also told him 'if you want to come back very soon to play in your national team and be the best in the world, follow me! Work together [with me]!'. And he's a good worker. A good worker, a good guy... I'm very pleased that he is with us."
-Antonio Conte; Source: ESPN Brasil
Much like the prognostications of David Luiz’s potential, Conte’s theme of constant improvement isn’t just lip service. He is truly committed to improving each and every player, and playing as many of them in positions and roles that maximize their abilities as possible. And when he finds a committed bunch like Chelsea have been (for most of) this season, the results are beautiful.
There’s a long way to go yet however. On Tuesday, Chelsea will be back to work and getting ready for Burnley away next weekend. Fourteen games to go.