David Luiz, a mercurial footballer if ever there was one. Following the reported recent bid for Luiz from Barcelona, I decided to look into whether or not there is a price at which Chelsea would be willing to sell or indeed if selling him would be in anyway beneficial.
Luiz (now 26) was signed by Chelsea on January 31st 2011 from Benfica for a reported fee of around 25 Million Euros plus Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic. He made an instant impact by being named Man of the Match in his first start away at Fulham, despite giving away a 93rd minute penalty in a 0-0 draw. Luiz increased his popularity further amongst Chelsea fans when he scored his first goal for the club with a brilliant half-volley at home to Manchester United, a goal which set Chelsea on their way to a 2-1 win. He also starred in the 2-0 win against Manchester City, again named man of the match in a game capped off by a brilliant solo goal from fellow Brazilian Ramires. Since then David has been a firm favourite amongst the Chelsea fans but his sometimes erratic displays have left some fans questioning whether or not it would be better to cash in on the defender. He has been known to have lapses in his defensive decision making but his worth to the side overall is unquestionable.
Looking at Luiz’s performances in the Premier League last season there were some interesting stats to come out of it. Luiz had the lowest pass success percentage out of Chelsea’s four centre backs (Luiz, Gary Cahill, John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic) with 81.8% compared to Terry and Cahill who both averaged over 88% and Ivanovic who had 83.8%. Whilst Luiz had the lowest percentage of all the central defenders, a success rate of 81.8% is still pretty solid, but I personally believe this is an area of his game that he could definitely improve. As a defender if he is giving the ball away more often than any other defender then he is only inviting pressure back onto, not only himself, but also the team.
Another stat to look at is interceptions per game. This an area of the game which I believe Luiz really excels. He seems to be a very good reader of the game and this is clear given that he averages 2.4 interceptions per game, more than anyone else in the squad and much more than any of his other central defensive partners, whith Branislav Ivanovic the next best at 1.4 interceptions per game. The advantage to this side of his game is that, with him reading the game so well, he can prevent opposition attacks before they’ve really got going, and with his inate ability to play out from the back and get forward (perhaps leaving him out of position on occasion) he can provide for the Blues in more ways than just defensively. Add to this the fact that out of all the blues defenders he had the most key passes and the most assists last season it proves that his all-round game is of some benefit. Granted this is not his primary role, but it is still a useful attribute to have.
One final defensive stat to look at is the number of shots blocked per game. David Luiz averaged just 0.4 per game the same as Ivanovic, however with Ivanovic often playing at right back this may explain why his average is low. This average is lower than that of both John Terry and Gary Cahill, who averaged 1.2 blocks per game in the Premier League last season. This perhaps suggests that Luiz isn’t as comfortable throwing his body around to get in the way of shots as perhaps the other defenders are and given Cahill’s positioning issues this may be something that Luiz has to improve on if Chelsea want to become more solid as a defensive unit this coming season.
His worth to the side is clear though, after 25 games of last season’s league campaign David Luiz had made 18 appearances. During which time Chelsea had a win percentage of 61% compared to 29% in the seven games in which he didn’t appear. Chelsea also conceded only 14 goals during those 18 appearances compared with 13 goals conceded in the seven he didn’t play in. So whilst his personal defensive performances can be erratic at times, it’s clear that when Luiz plays, Chelsea as a unit are much stronger defensively.
Overall, as a Chelsea fan myself, I’d be absolutely gutted if we lost Luiz. He’s an incredibly popular figure with the fans and whilst defensively he may not be the most solid, there is much more to his game that can be utilised. I personally do see him as a centre back as he has a great ability to play from the back, highlighted by the fact that he was second only to Petr Cech when it came to long ball accuracy in the league last season with an average of 5.3 long balls per game being successful. I don’t think Chelsea can afford to lose him as whilst I’m sure they’d be able to replace him, whoever they brought in would not be able to replicate the charisma or all round defensive game of David Luiz, I think they would be foolish to let him go particularly for the £35 million that Barcelona are rumoured to have offered. So, with all things considered I think Chelsea should do everything they can to hold onto one of their prized assets.
Let me know what you think in the comments section, Can Chelsea afford to LUIZ him?