David Luiz wasn’t Antonio Conte‘s first choice as a center-back signing this summer — or second, or third, or fourth — but the first-year Chelsea manager believes the Brazilian’s second stint at the club will be better than his first.
[ MORE: All of PST’s PL coverage ]
Speaking two days of Luiz’s potential re-debut for the Blues, a trip to the south of Wales to take on Swansea City (Watch live, 11 a.m. ET on Sunday, on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com), Conte explained how Luiz ended up back at Stamford Bridge.
He also earmarked the 29-year-old for further improvement as a player, saying there’s still time “for him to become one of the best defenders in the world” — quotes from the Guardian:
“This transfer window was very difficult for us to reach our targets.
“At the last minute there was a situation which the club and I agreed on to improve the squad. I like defenders who like to play football. We know that David can improve in certain defensive situations, but I’m very happy that he is here. He’s also a good guy, a positive person in the changing room.
“Every player, until the end of their career, can improve. Every player. Even when you are 32, 33 or 36, you can always improve. David Luiz is 29, a fantastic age for him to become one of the best defenders in the world. I’m seeing great commitment from him; he wants to play for Chelsea. This is a great opportunity for him and for us to improve. I repeat: he has good characteristics to become a fantastic defender in the world.”
Luiz, quite clearly a maverick in a position long synonymous with minimal amounts of risk-taking, is obviously not the prototypical Conte center back — disciplined, calm under pressure, an organizer. It’ll be mighty interesting, especially early on, to see how Luiz handles what will seem like shackles placed upon him by Conte.