WORDS WITH... DAVID LUIZ

Posted on: Fri 30 Mar 2012

David Luiz is in serious mode.

Regular visitors to Cobham will note just how irregular an occurrence such a sight is. When not on the training field the Brazilian can usually be found shouting in the corridors, shouting in the dressing room or shouting in the canteen.

Today is different though, and it is a stern-faced and pensive, albeit frizzy-haired and snappily dressed David Luiz that we sit down with.

The 24-year-old has endured some testing times this season, dealing with criticism from pundits over his tendency to dive into challenges, and every mistake seized upon by former professionals, yet the people that count have stuck by him, and are being repaid with some of his finest form since arriving at Chelsea from Benfica just over a year ago.

His manager for the past six months believes he has demonstrated a quick adaptation to life in England, and has been harshly treated for a couple of high-profile errors.

'I think he's played fantastically since the start,' Villas-Boas said. 'You have to agree that there are misconceptions created from the start, since the player's arrival.

'Sometimes a player has to carry that stamp for the rest of his life. Just maybe, you got that impression with David. He's going to be one of the greatest central defenders in the world. Because of his characteristics: technical ability, anticipation and speed.

'There is a nature in a Premier League game that you have to adapt to - it's culturally different to other countries.'

Key statistics seem to support the manager's viewpoint - David Luiz is ranked among the top three per cent of defenders in the Barclays Premier League for successful interceptions, highlighting adept positioning and reading of the game, while his passing in the defensive and middle thirds of the pitch both rank among the top five per cent, with around 90 per cent accuracy.

David Luiz - Chelsea

When it is put to him that he may recently have been hitting top form, before the Manchester United game at the weekend, we had only conceded once in five previous outings, the ex-Benfica man responds with a shrug of the shoulders and explanation that little has changed personally.

'I've been working in the same way as always, training at my best level,' he says. 'Sometimes you get criticism, like I did, and recently I have been applauded for my work. As long as I can go home and lay down on my bed and have my conscience clear that I am doing an honest job, I am happy.

'Nothing has changed in the team. We have been working hard, just like before, and the main thing is to continue working and maintaining the philosophy that the coach instructs. We have to do this, sometimes we are doing things that are great and not getting the results and sometimes we do things not so good and get the result.

'The main thing is to continue working hard and obviously we're not where we want to be at the moment, not fighting for first place, but we have to keep looking for victories and believe in ourselves until the end.

'There are games we have lost where we could have done better, but we can't change the past, we can only look to the future and know that we can do better and move up positions.'

Since returning from a knee injury that had prevented his involvement in pre-season after a busy summer representing his country at the Copa America, David Luiz has been a near fixture at the heart of the back four.

It is a defence that has had to cope with some serious rejigging in the past couple of games, first through injury to John Terry, and then suspension to Ashley Cole, allowing for the introduction of debutant Gary Cahill against United on Sunday. Cole's availability at Everton this week, combined with Terry's return in the hopefully not-too-distant future will provide serious competition for places. How does ours compare with that of the sides around us?

'It's hard to say one club out of the top six has the best,' reflects David Luiz. 'We are talking about one of the best leagues in the world with incredible quality, and any team can have a good game and still end up conceding a goal. It's so hard to say how each differs from one to the next.

'I do know it's a good thing for Chelsea to have Gary Cahill. He is a great player who has come to help and seeing him in the changing room and on the pitch I know he is right for Chelsea and he will be a great help for the club,' reflects David Luiz, who has also been touted as a potential deep-lying midfielder, given his propensity to attack from the back.

'I just think about helping the team, not which my best position can be,' he counters. 'The manager gives me confidence to play my football and supports my attacking moves.'

Sunday's header, deflected in off Rio Ferdinand at a corner, was a more traditional centre-back's goal, but with his roving style, close touch and unpredictability it might not be long before he is again hitting the net with a rather more memorable effort.

With his professional duties concluded for the day, it is time to depart, or nearly. A brief chat with the Portuguese-speaking interpreter, who he believes it could be the last time he sees such is his familiarity with English these days, is followed by a quick piece to camera for Chelsea TV.

And there it is, as the camera rolls, the smile returns and spreads across David Luiz's face. It seems he is never happier than when the attention is on him, and it is likely to be there for some time yet.