David Luiz, Chelsea’s resident great philosopher, lover of life, champion of love, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, would like you to know he’s not going anywhere.
“I came back to Chelsea to stay here. When I took my decision to come back here from Paris it was to win the Premier League and to do something again with Chelsea, so I am very happy here.”
Last season’s favorite conspiracy theory was that Antonio Conte had an animus against our Brazilian players in general, and David Luiz in particular after he publicly protested his substitution against AS Roma in the Champions League. The hot gossip was that the man Conte spent twelve months building up as one of the best defenders in the world made just seventeen appearances because he was suddenly in Conte’s doghouse by October.
The reality was that David Luiz’s knee injury from the previous season carried over and got worse (may karma someday redress the balance against the man responsible, Sergio Aguero), while he also picked up an ankle injury as well as another leg issue that may or may not have been related to the knee. He spent almost the entire second-half in constant rehab at Cobham, while supporting the team from the stands on matchdays.
That’s not to say that his relationship with Conte was perfect (few players could say that by the end), but he’s certainly enjoying himself in Sarri’s world. As a vastly experienced international footballer, he’s still like a kid in a candy store with the brand new philosophy at the Bridge.
“I love this philosophy. We play high, with a lot of possession of the ball, in a technical way. He’s trying to help us every single day to quickly learn his philosophy, to do our best for Chelsea. You guys know me - I like to be happy, to enjoy my life.
”We have the best job in the world. He came with this idea as a human being, so I think if you’re not happy to do your job it doesn’t matter if you’re a footballer or not. We have to be happy to do our best. A new philosophy always takes time. But it also depends on us.”
We’ve been talking a lot about the compressed schedule leading into the season. Not only did Sarri himself join Chelsea days after training formally began, but the likes of Hazard and Kanté are coming back only in the next few days.
The rest of the world cup players could be back on Monday/Tuesday.— CarefreeYouth (@CarefreeYouth) July 29, 2018
A few have returned to London and Sarri did say he would talk to them face to face at the end of the month #CFC
It’s not an ideal situation in which to absorb a football philosophy that’s as foreign to the Chelsea formed by Mourinho and Conte as a blood-rare sirloin steak is in a vegan salad bar. Which means work, work, work (I guess Conte hasn’t been completely excised after all).
“We are dedicated every day and doing things every single day in training, especially in this beginning with these friendly games - we are trying to learn quickly. It depends also on us. It is a physical and tactical challenge in pre-season, every single aspect every day, physical, tactical, technical. Football depends on everything. It is not just tactical, it is not just physical, you have to try every single day.
“Yes, it is a challenge for everybody. It is good to have fantastic players, more than just 11. You have many players that can play in the starting 11, so it is a positive challenge for everybody. We are trying to train really hard every single day, double sessions, to learn quickly. It’s not just like that, we’re doing that every single day.”
David Luiz may be healthy and eager to play, but will he get the chance to? He started both pre-season games, but that may have been because there’s a still a shortage of bodies, with Christensen and Rudiger having just come back from their break. Gary Cahill is still out, Kurt Zouma is nursing a mystery injury and Chelsea are reportedly wanting to buy either Daniele Rugani or Mattia Caldara from Juventus.
It’s impossible to predict who the centre-backs will be against Huddersfield in two weeks. In David Luiz’s favor is that he’s relatively quick and he has an eye for a pass, things which Sarri values in a center back. Against him is the idea that he’s too indisciplined to play in a back-four, where he has no cover and his rushes of blood to the head can be disastrous. But with great age comes great wisdom. The “Geezer” may finally be “grown up”, big hair or not.
At 31, David Luiz is one of Chelsea’s elder statesmen, on and off the pitch. He used to have a room full of arcade machines in his Thames-front penthouse. Now he part-owns and operates a restaurant. His Instagram is all about family, football, and being an amazing human being. He may not have played much last season, but he mentored Andreas Christensen. Now he’s taken young Ethan Ampadu under his wings, and not just because of similar hairstyles.
“He’s a fantastic boy, a fantastic player. He’s humble, he has his feet on the ground, he tries to learn every day.
“He’s 17, almost 18 but for me he is already a man playing football, he’s great for me to have this opportunity with this youngster who is already a man. I have played with many players, different age, different times of life, so it is great to a player like him here. I try to advise him with many things, I have seen a lot of things in my career have lived a lot of things in my career, so I try to help him in the best way because he deserves the best advice.”
And of course he’s happy to have Jorginho in the squad, the Brazilian-Italian joining alongside Sarri and fitting in almost straight away as a leader, teacher, and great teammate.
“He’s a fantastic player, I’m so happy to play with him. He’s top, top class. He always wants the ball, he’s always in good space, always creates a line to pass. He knows already the philosophy of our coach, so I’m so happy to have this kind of player in our team.”
-David Luiz; source: Goal
Chelsea are facing a tough start to the season. A new system, a new coach, maybe more new players, very little time to settle in, games against Arsenal and Liverpool before the end of September — patience will be required.
We ought to be anxious.
But then along comes David Luiz, the human ray of sunshine, the man who’s always ready to bust out a smile or a charitable gesture, to make us feel good about what’s about to happen.
And that’s why we love him.
P.S.: David Luiz is entering the final year of his contract. As per Chelsea policy for players over 30, he probably won’t be offered a multi-year contract extension. But we can only hope that his second Chelsea cycle is not be ending just yet.