David Luiz’s move from Chelsea to Arsenal on transfer deadline day this summer was certainly one of the biggest shocks of the season, and that was before anyone had played even a single game!
His departure caused plenty of initial concern, but the emergence of Fikayo Tomori (despite a few recent wobbles), has put many of those to rest and even increased confidence in Chelsea’s youth revolution. The team’s overall defending could use plenty of improvement, but then again, it’s not like David Luiz was particularly known for steady, error-free, and consistent defensive excellence — in fact, his own start to life at Arsenal was filled with mistakes, though he seems to have settled down a bit now.
It wasn’t the first time David Luiz had left Chelsea of course, but the timing and the nature of this move was hard to explain. Chelsea had broken with club policy to sign him to a two-year extension just a few months prior (a luxury not afforded even to John Terry or Frank Lampard after they turned 30), only for him to waltz across town to one of Chelsea’s biggest rivals? David Luiz was never an orthodox footballer, but even for him, this was outrageous.
But as he explains to UOL journalist Mauro Cezar Pereira, the decision to leave the Blues came before the offer from the Gunners.
“It is always quite hard because of their rivalry, but I took the decision to leave Chelsea before I got Arsenal’s proposal. It was not a decision made together.
“Just as I decided to leave Chelsea — only a few days after — Arsenal’s offer arrived and, since it was another big club, I did not think twice. Of course it is difficult because of the rivalry, but I could not let go on the opportunity of living a new story, in a new place, in a big club just because of that. I want to be in world football at the highest level and for that you need to play in big clubs.”
As for the “why” of the thing, David Luiz has stuck to the same explanation he offered soon after: his “cycle” was over, Chelsea were on a different path, and he did not see himself as part of Frank Lampard’s plans for the season. In hindsight, that seems short-sighted — there’s been plenty of room in Chelsea’s youth revolution for veterans like Willian, Jorginho, and Cesar Azpilicueta — but everyone’s got to look out for their own, first and foremost.
“I think that in every place there will always be overhauls, new groups, new professionals, and Chelsea are living a new moment. My decision was an individual one made through honest conversations — between Frank and me, and no one else.
“We had a different idea with regards to the future and that is why I decided to depart on a new path. [Frank and I] always had a good relationship.”
Both Chelsea and Arsenal are in a good moment right now after indifferent starts, separated by just one point inside the Premier League’s top five after eight matches played. In a strange quirk of scheduling, the two teams won’t meet until after Christmas, but then will face each other twice in four weeks. David Luiz, who scored his first goal of the season over the weekend, once famously celebrated against Chelsea while playing for PSG. Will he let his freak flag fly again, should he do so for the Gunners? Probably. But it wouldn’t be personal.
“I always liked [Chelsea], without a doubt. My respect and affection for all people at the club stays the same.
“There was a new moment in my career, a new cycle where I had the opportunity to move to another big club, keeping up the ambition of winning titles. It was like this in every other team I was part of, and that is what I expect to happen at Arsenal as well.
“So, I saw this possibility to write a new story in a new place, but I am also eternally grateful to Chelsea, and all the people and friendships that are eternal. I get messages to this day from everyone at the club because what I built there was true.”
“Of course it will be different [to play against Chelsea]. I have enormous affection for Chelsea, where I got titles, developed [as a player] and made great friends. But today I play for Arsenal and I will always give my best effort to honour the shirt I am wearing.”
-David Luiz; source: UOL Esporte
We’ll just have to remember to keep his reception not-personal as well. We can be friends again in the future. But not yet.