When the transfer window slammed shut a renewed excitement was sampled from the Chelsea atmosphere. Fernando Torres had smashed the British transfer record and caused all the fuss and fight, absorbing the flash light photography and column inches. But behind the shadow of Roman Abramovich’s new found intent came a Brazilian, reminiscent of a yellow cartoon character that would have us all foaming at the mouth like Homer Simpson.
David Luiz strolled into town looking like Sideshow Bob (without the oversized feet), and it was little time before his new team mates began mocking him of the similarities. Yet despite sporting a hairstyle that gives Fellaini competition, many Chelsea fans can be forgiven for not knowing too much about the Brazilian centre half.
On his arrival Ancelotti suggested of playing Luiz in the holding midfield role, but his earlier spell at Vitoria had provided evidence that he was no midfielder. After an unsuccessful spell he was switched to centre back, establishing himself as a defensive stalwart. Benfica snapped him on loan to replace Tottenham failure Ricardo Rocha, signing him permanently after 10 impressive appearances.
His debut is forgotten because his introduction was in the final moments of the Liverpool match, overshadowed by all the hype and drama of Torres’s first appearance against his former club. It was the next league game that allowed Chelsea supporters attain a proper analysis of the new recruit, with his influence on the ball resembling that of Frank Leboeuf, particularly with his 60 yard defence splitting pass for only Torres to be too humble with his control. It was when he bicycle kicked the ball into the opposing penalty area that everyone thought he was that extra bit special and no longer the sideshow of the Torres saga, but the main event.
It is certainly no surprise to see why Benfica were in such vigorous transfer negotiations with Chelsea, and why the Portuguese side were demanding a higher fee. David Luiz is solid, composed and tough which makes him suitable for the Premiership. More than that he has a great perseverance when hustling for the ball and winning those 50/50 challenges.
These attributes were all displayed and highlighted last Tuesday against Manchester United, applying high pressure and surging forward similar to Ricardo Carvalho, but without the nosebleeds. What makes him a joy to watch is not just his terrier like approach in defence but his Brazilian style in possession, composed, styled, accurate and technically excellent. His goal would make any striker in the world proud.
Upon this Luiz still appeared sometimes swallowed by the ball when long balls and crosses were fizzed into the area, nonetheless his heading ability is effective, but his positional sense remains to be improved. Having said that he still managed to keep Wayne Rooney comfortably snug in his pocket, so much so Rooney’s forward runs were upended and the visiting fans were halted to a deafening silence.
On this evidence, Luiz can be a major figure for the rest of the season and a legend in the future. Yes he needs to be more careful and calculated in his tackling but his dynamism and his ease in stepping forward makes Chelsea more robust. He may have cost half the price as Torres, but so far he is twice the player.