In one of the most surprising deals of the summer, Chelsea defender David Luiz left Chelsea to join Arsenal, their crosstown rivals and competitors for a spot in the top 4. The 32 year old Brazilian joins Arsenal in a deal worth £8 million, just months after signing a 2 year contract extension with the Blues back in May.
At first glance, Luiz’s decision to jump ship from the blue to red side of London seems a curious one but unconfirmed reports of a riff between Luiz and Chelsea manager Frank Lampard night provide an explanation. According to these reports, Luiz and Lampard have been on bad terms since Lampard’s days as a Chelsea player and Luiz threatened to go on strike if he was not sold to Arsenal. Lampard unsurprisingly denied these claims and provided a different, more Chelsea-positive account.
“I did it purely as a football decision. We had some conversations over the last week, honest conversations because I know David well and I think the conclusion was that he moved on. There certainly wasn’t any strike and in terms of fallouts, no, there weren’t any”.
It does however seem unlikely that Luiz was sold ‘purely as a footballing decision’ because without him, Chelsea are a weaker footballing side. The Brazilian was set to play a key role alongside Antonio Rüdiger in the heart of Chelsea’s defense this season. But now with his departure, Rüdiger’s injury, and Chelsea’s transfer ban, The Blues have no choice but to start the inexperienced Andreas Christensen and returning loanee Kurt Zouma. To make matters worse, Christensen and Zouma are currently the side’s only two fit center backs, although César Azpilicueta is capable of slotting in if need be.
If Luiz made it clear that he saw no future at Chelsea then the decision to sell an unmotivated player who could cause problems in the locker room would make sense but that’s not the story Lampard told. Luiz’s decision to force a move to Arsenal and leave Chelsea in such an uncomfortable position is proof that the former fan favorite’s blood doesn’t run Chelsea Blue as many had thought. Once he decided that he wanted out of Stamford Bridge, the decision to move The Emirates makes a lot of sense. Arsenal are the only top side in England that can guarantee him regular playing time and by staying in London, Luiz doesn’t have to uproot his family.
David Luiz meanwhile has no second thoughts about the move and is eager to start his new adventure across town.
“The cycle finished there. It was a conversation between me and Chelsea and everybody. It’s a new cycle in my life, in my career as a footballer. I grew up watching a lot of Arsenal games and I’m excited to play for this big club”.
Only time will who out of David Luiz and Chelsea made the right decision to part ways. Luiz’s exit gives Zouma and Christensen the opportunity to establish themselves as an elite center back for Chelsea going forward while his skill and experience could be just what Arsenal need to get over the hill and qualify for the Champions League season.