David Luiz has "surprised" me at Chelsea – Maurizio Sarri

Posted Wednesday, November 21, 2018 by squawka.com

David Luiz has

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri has admitted he is "surprised" by the recent performances of defender David Luiz.

Luiz's Chelsea career had appeared to be over before Sarri's arrival, with former boss Antonio Conte having frozen the Brazilian out at the club.

Was David Luiz's Chelsea career in doubt? Five key things to know…

1. David Luiz had fallen out of favour with Conte last season, losing his place in the Blues squad.
2. Conte was sacked in the summer and replaced by Maurizio Sarri, after falling out with club's hierarchy.
3. Sarri's arrival brought a return to a four-man defence and offered a fresh chance for David Luiz.
4. And Sarri has admitted he is surprised with Luiz's footballing intelligence.
5. David Luiz has played every minute for Chelsea in their 12 Premier League games so far, building a good partnership with Antonio Rudiger as Sarri pushes his side to play out from the back.

Despite winning the FA Cup, Chelsea disappointed in the Premier League last season by finishing fifth and therefore failing to qualify for the Champions League.

Under former Napoli head coach Sarri, the Blues are exceeding expectations. Currently, they are third in the table and unbeaten, with eight wins and four draws.

But the Italian has admitted there is still a lot of room for improvement from his team.

Speaking to Gazzetta dello Sport during the international break, Sarri said: "There is an infinite passion and what I have seen so far, it has been expressed in the right way.

"Correcting mistakes is the question of time. The limited time we have for [tactical] training does not help the coaches but I believe in the players. We must not think only of the physical component, but also of the mental component."

Sarri went on to single out Luiz, Ross Barkley, Willian and Alvaro Morata, who have all impressed him in different ways since joining Chelsea.

"David Luiz surprised me with his awareness and intelligence, [Ross] Barkley has found continuity after a long period marked by injuries," he added.

"Willian is a player of immense quality. His style of play is perfect for England. And Morata is a quality, fast and technical guy. He has a great sensitivity and the difficulties had hurt him."

Sarri and Chelsea will be hoping continue their unbeaten start to the season when they take on London rivals Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley on Saturday, with Luiz a certainty to start.

How Sarri persuaded David Luiz to stay at Chelsea

Luiz was a regular upon re-signing for Chelsea during the 2016/17 season, helping the Blues win the Premier League as part of a back three.

But after a red card against Arsenal in the fifth game of the season last year, Luiz would go on to make just five further appearances in the Premier League amid innocuous injury problems and rumours of a rift with Conte.

As a result, Luiz was expected to call time on his second spell at Chelsea. But, speaking in the summer, the Brazilian admitted the arrival of Sarri kept him at the club.

He said: "I love this philosophy. We play high, with a lot of possession of the ball, in a technical way.

"He's [Sarri] 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."

How does Luiz compare now to his Chelsea teammates?

Gary Neville once said David Luiz played as though he were being controlled by a 10-year-old on PlayStation. But this season Luiz has been favoured by Sarri for his composure on the ball and has proven himself to be a reliable defender.

David Luiz has

The Brazilian has averaged 72.48 passes completed per 90 minutes in the Premier League so far, just behind partner Rudiger. But Luiz has tested himself more with long passes, eye-catching attempts which look to split opposition defences in search of Eden Hazard or Alvaro Morata.

Luiz has also made more clearances than his defensive teammates, at an average of 5.19 per 90 minutes, as well as 0.94 interceptions per 90, showing his ability to read the game from the back.



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