David Luiz first arrived on the Chelsea scene over six years ago as a young defender with top class promise. He left after 3.5 trophy-filled seasons, including a Champions League and Europa League back-to-back double, but also to the sounds of many scathing reviews of his center back qualities.
Since his return, he’s done little else other than proving such doubters wrong.
“When David arrived in England, I heard a lot of bad things about him. Why was he coming back to Chelsea because, in the past, he had performed badly and was not a defender?”
“This was a great challenge for him, but also for me and when we decided to buy him, to take him back, we were sure we were taking a really good player. We have put him back as one of the best defenders in Europe and, I hope, in the world.”
-Antonio Conte; source: Mirror
Soon after the signing itself, Conte spoke of his confidence in being able to improve David Luiz, talking quite specifically about improving David’s levels of concentration during a game and making him one of the best in the world at the position.
The position itself, anchoring the three-man backline, was key in this effort, too, taking full advantage of David Luiz’s strengths and mitigating his weaknesses.
“I like to repeat to him that it is very important to have the right concentration. His role is a crucial role for us and he has performed very well, but I want him to perform well for the rest of the season. [...] This position is perfect for him. He is strong physically and has good technique and can start our possession. He has the personality to do this, and also he has on his flanks two really good defenders.”
-Antonio Conte; source: Chelsea FC
David Luiz himself is quick to pay tribute to the strength of the collective group rather than just individual quality.
“When the collective is going well, the individual part is good for everybody. The praise is nice to hear but I understand why, it is because the teamwork is going very well. That is why, it is easy to see the individual part.”
-David Luiz; source: Chelsea FC
Now for the big test at Old Trafford...