By Ollie Irish
The verdict on David Luiz’s full debut for Chelsea: doubleplusgood. Or: half as much as Fernando Torres, but twice as good.
Portuguese and South American football watchers have been raving about Luiz for the last couple of seasons, and now we can see why at close range. He was man of the match at Fulham on Monday evening, despite conceding a late penalty – a dubious one too – that might have cost his team a point. (He got away with it, though, as Clint Dempsey played it too safe with his penno and Petr Cech did the rest.)
Playing on the losing side would have been very harsh on Luiz, whose dynamic performace was in start contrast to that of his sluggish team-mates, including Torres (a few good runs, but not much else). Only compatriot Ramires matched Luiz’s energy levels.
Luiz started at centre-back but roamed everywhere with great intent, like some wild-haired, unshackled Beckenbauer Junior; he strode up the pitch, beating players (for a centre-back, his close control is excellent), he popped up on the wing, he went for goal, he switched sides with John Terry (statuesque by comparison). He lost the ball in key areas a couple of times, but at least he went for it, seemingly bored of Terry’s dreary penchant for sideways passing along the back four. Incidentally, and as Carlo Ancelotti hinted, when Alex returns to full fitness, it’s Terry, not Luiz, whose place will be under threat.
Ancelotti was impressed: “He did a mistake at the end because clearly he was tired but he played a very good game.
“He showed fantastic quality, as a defender and as a player, and he put a fantastic pass for Torres in the first half and this is very good news for us.”
Very good news indeed.
Sideshow Dave might be asked to tone down his joyful playing style for the prosaic Prem – but not much, we hope. Twenty-five mill already looks a real bargain – the Chelsea fans who chanted “Luiz! Luiz!” agree; the Bridge has a new cult hero, and it’s not the man with the £50m pricetag.