Cobham (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Chelsea defender David Luiz admits he took a risk leaving Paris St Germain to come ‘home’ but as he prepares for the FA Cup final, having already won the Premier League, it’s a gamble which he believes has reaped dividends.
The 30-year-old Brazilian was a firm favourite in Paris, an established and respected part of a successful team which won back-to-back domestic ‘trebles’ during his two-year stay in the French capital.
That’s a contrast to his first spell at Chelsea when he was heavily criticised by television pundits for the poor quality of his defending — despite eventually being sold for a world record fee of £50million for a defender.
So, it’s easy to question why he answered a call just ahead of the 2016/17 campaign to return to Stamford Bridge to a side managed by Antonio Conte who had been tasked with restoring morale after a turbulent season prior to that when they had gone from champions to finishing 10th.
His return, was hardly greeted with celebrations either — certainly not outside of Stamford Bridge — and instead described as a panic buy by the home media.
So Luiz can understand why many people wondered if he had made a mistake.
“I was winning in Paris. I went to Paris for two years and won all the titles in France and I had a great life,” he told journalists at the club Open Day head of Saturday’s final against London rivals Arsenal.
“So I have everything in Paris and then I took a risk to come back in one country that was not that happy with me.
“They always criticise me a lot even with the Champions League, Europa League, and playing all the games.
“So that’s why it was a risk. And I love the risk. If you never take risks in your life you never feel something new.
“So I taste something new and I like it.
“I don’t like to stay always with the easy life — so that’s why I took the risk and today I am very happy.”
– ‘I cut my salary’ –
The contrast between the Chelsea of last season and the Antonio Conte side going for a league and cup ‘double’ is immense; and Luiz has been such an important par of the transformation, becoming a pivotal cog in Conte’s 3-4-3 formation.
“I think last season was not a good season for Chelsea and this season we did great since the beginning, not just because of me, I think because of everybody,” insisted Luiz.
“It was because of the commitment, desire, the mentality we put on the pitch every day.
“Every day we are working hard and that’s why we deserve it.”
In fact, Luiz describes re-signing for Chelseas as ‘the right decision’ and revealed that it involved taking a pay cut from the lucrative package he enjoyed in Paris.
“If you want to know about the money, I cut my salary to come back here.
“But it’s OK, God has given me a lot so I’m happy with this,” he said.
Since making his surprise move almost everything has gone well for the Brazilian and, inevitably, his critics have gone strangely quiet.
In fact former Manchester United defender Gary Neville, who in 2013 famously said Luiz played like “he was being controlled by a ten year old on the Playstation” went as far as to retract his comments four years on.
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