Since David Luiz’ return to Chelsea in 2016, it has been a rollercoaster two years for the Brazilian defender.
The 31-year-old went from winning the Premier League title under Antonio Conte to being nearly pushed out of the door 12 months later.
Now, Luiz is part of Maurizio Sarri’s new attacking revolution at Stamford Bridge where he has helped the Italian win his opening five Premier League games.
All of the positivity around the London club has fuelled talk that Luiz could potentially be handed a new two-year deal. But is it worth offering Luiz a new contract?
It is quite apparent in their transfer dealings, and the manner in which they deal with their youngsters that Chelsea likes to profit from their assets. Luiz, who is in the final year of his contract, re-signed from PSG in 2016 for £34million. It’s quite logical to think that the Chelsea hierarchy simply won’t allow him to leave on a free next summer.
However, offering the Brazilian international a two-year deal indicates that Sarri would like Luiz to, at the very least, be part of his medium-term plans. Saying that, if Sarri is still there in two years time that would be an achievement in itself.
Let’s look at Luiz’ stats from previous campaigns and analyse whether it is worth taking that risk:
Luiz The ‘Defender’
During Chelsea’s impressive title win, Luiz played in a back three alongside Cesar Azpilicueta and Gary Cahill. In previous years gone by, many had questioned Luiz’ footballing brain when playing in a flat back four. However, in Conte’s new robust system Luiz had found his home. As you can see from the image below, Luiz made an impressive 5.2 clearances per game during that season. Compare that to 4.1 last term where Cone only gave him nine starts. So far during this campaign, he has only made 3.8 clearances per game. But that perhaps indicates more towards Sarri’s new possession-based system. Despite hardly featuring, Luiz was clearly showing signs of improvement last season in the Premier League. The forward-thinking centre-back was making more tackles and interceptions than the previous season. But Conte’s relationship with the towering defender had turned sour. Then again, Luiz wasn’t the only one providing that bitter taste in Conte’s mouth.
The need to drive forward
Whenever you see Luiz in action, you will always see the big-haired Brazilian making driving runs from defence. And looking to make that audacious pass. At times, it looks spectacular. On other occasions, you would advise him not to look towards the dugout. His urge to attack and do something different is proving to be a strength under Sarri. As you can see from the image below, Luiz has made an incredible 83.4 average passes per game. That’s nearly double compared to previous seasons gone by. Whilst Sarri wants attacking football, Hazard playing further up the field and his full-backs practically playing as wingers. He also wants his players to have the ability to keep the ball and make it talk for long periods. Hence the signing of Jorginho. It needs to be remembered that Luiz is playing a higher line compared to previous seasons and operating in a flat back four.
A two-year deal for Luiz, at this moment in time, seems like a sensible decision by Chelsea. From a financial standpoint they will cover themselves, and on the field, he is producing the goods. Whilst supporters may worry if he can play as one of two CB’s for the long-term under Sarri. At this moment, he is proving that he is suiting Sarri’s system just as well as anybody else. Not much to lose to keep him on board for now.