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David Luiz says he’s happier following Conte departure

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David Luiz has been given a second life at Chelsea, and the veteran is taking full advantage of his opportunity with the club.

[ MORE: Where is it going wrong at Manchester United? ]

The Brazilian looked to be on his way out of Stamford Bridge a season ago after receiving little playing time under former manager Antonio Conte, but has since found himself a starting role with Maurizio Sarri in his back four system.

Luiz, who played a total of 10 Premier League matches in 2017/18, has already started 270 minutes in the new season alongside Antonio Rudiger in the heart of the Chelsea back line.

The 31-year-old recognizes though that he likely wouldn’t have been afforded his current opportunity had Conte stayed on as manager.

“If the manager [Conte] had stayed the same, of course, everybody knows maybe I had to move clubs,” Luiz said in a Sky Sports interview. “Now I am here and so happy.”

Luiz is currently in his third season with the Blues, after having previously left the club for a big-money move to Paris Saint-Germain back in 2014.

In all, Luiz has spent seven seasons at Stamford Bridge, making him one of the longest-tenured Chelsea players in the current squad.

Despite the lack of playing time under Conte though, the skilled defender has adjusted his game enough to be able to earn himself consistent minutes on the pitch ahead of the likes of Gary Cahill and Andreas Christensen.

“I think I always have to feel fresh start because I am getting old! It is amazing to play football, of course last season was not the best for me inside the pitch, but also I learned a lot outside the pitch as a person, as a man,” Luiz said. “It is always great to be on the pitch.

“I learned a lot, sometimes you have to be patient, sometimes you have to take care of your body, sometimes you have to learn from outside to be good in the future. So for me it was great.

“I got time to take care of my body; many times I was on the pitch in pain, and I never refused to play one game. It was good to rest and be fresh.”

Transfer rumor roundup: Lozano to Arsenal, Luiz to Newcastle

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‘Tis the season.

The January transfer window opens, no surprise, with the start of the New Year, and 2018 could be bringing some big switches as clubs aim to survive the drop or cement their Top Four stock.

Mexico star Hirving “Chucky” Lozano’s red hot start to life in Europe has him in line for a move to Arsenal, according to Metro. The 22-year-old striker just left Liga MX for the Eredivisie last summer, but boasts 10 goals and six assists in 12 league matches. Lozano scored 18 times for Pachuca between Liga MX and the CONCACAF Champions League last season.

[ MORE: Larin to UCL Round of 16 side? ]

That’s impressive even for the free-scoring world of the Netherlands top flight, and Arsene Wenger could see fit to make him “the most expensive Mexican player of all-time.” Lozano cost PSV Eindhoven less than $10 million in July, and Arsenal is said to be willing to spend as much as $56 million on him.

Arsenal had also been linked with David Luiz, but surely Antonio Conte would rather move the reportedly out-of-favor defender to a club outside of London. Enter Newcastle, as the London Evening Standard says a Luiz loan to St. James’ Park could be on the cards.

Benitez could go to a back three, but it’s more likely he’d play Luiz as more of a holding midfielder in front of a combination of Jamaal Lascelles, Ciaran Clark, and Florian Lejeune.

Conte discusses Chelsea’s squad rotation, David Luiz

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Antonio Conte has been an avid rotator of his Chelsea team this season and the Italian coach has confirmed he will do it once again on Wednesday for their League Cup quarterfinal.

[ LIVE: Follow League Cup QF scores ] 

Chelsea host Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday and Conte has revealed his plans to give plenty of youngsters a chance against the Cherries.

With European action, a run in the League Cup and Chelsea sitting in third place in the Premier League table, Conte’s rotation has worked fairly well and he believes it is the best way for success across all four competitions his team will play in.

“It’s right to continue to give this opportunity to my players to show me that they deserve to play,” Conte said. “Every competition is serious and our task is to try and win the game, to reach the semifinals. It’s right in this competition to give the opportunity to the players that aren’t playing with regularity. This is very important. It’s very difficult to ask your players to play every game. [N’Golo] Kante has played 10 games in a row. When you do this, you take a great risk with injury.”

Conte confirmed that both Michy Batshuayi and Kenedy will start against Bournemouth, while academy products Dujon Sterling and Callum Hudson-Odoi could be in the squad and 17-year-old Ethan Ampadu may start for the second-straight League Cup game.

When it comes to injuries, Conte revealed that Alvaro Morata is “okay” after his back injury and Charly Musonda is recovering well, while David Luiz remains out with a knee injury.

Responding to questions about media reports that Luiz could be sold to London rivals Arsenal in the January transfer window for over $40 million, Conte had the following to say.

“I don’t read and I solve the problem,” Conte said. “I don’t have some information about this topic. I repeat, I am a person who is very realistic. I like to tell the truth. I think that also I don’t want to annoy you with the same reply. I don’t listen to this. I don’t have anything about this.”

Conte then added that “I like to make the best decision from what I see during the training sessions and if you deserve to play, you play” as well as making a statement about him looking at the mental approach of his players when making decisions on whether or not they should start.

Luiz, 30, was left out of Chelsea’s squad for their win against Manchester United in November and hasn’t played for over a month amid reports of a bust-up with Conte. His knee injury also seems to have been rather convenient as rumors continue to swirl about him leaving Chelsea in January.

Andreas Christensen has impressed in place of Luiz and his form could suggest that Conte is willing to cash in on his Brazilian international who is known to be a big personality in the dressing room at Chelsea following his two spells at the club which yielded the UEFA Champions League, FA Cup, Europa League and Premier League trophies.

Luiz’s sudden fall from grace at Chelsea is even more shocking when you consider his fine form last season in Chelsea’s title-winning campaign. Many eyebrows were raised when Luiz returned to Chelsea from PSG but the Brazilian stepped up to become the central figure in Chelsea’s three-man defense.

Less than 12 months on, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him leave Chelsea in January.

Report: Luiz done at Chelsea, perhaps as soon as January

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A report out of England says Chelsea defender David Luiz could be out the door in January.

Luiz, 30, has a knee injury and has played in just one match for Chelsea since a Halloween loss to Roma in the Champions League, one that supposedly culminated in a blow-up between the defender and manager Antonio Conte.

He was sold once before by Chelsea, shipped to Paris Saint-Germain for $66 million in 2014 before returning to Stamford Bridge in 2016 for $45 million.

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Luiz has made just one appearance, a Nov. 22 match in Qarabag, since that Roma loss. He returned to the bench against Liverpool before being diagnosed with a knee injury.

The report says Juventus is a possible destination for Luiz, though the Champions League could be a problem for both sides. Luiz is Cup-tied to Chelsea, and Juventus remains in the UCL as well.

And Chelsea would need reinforcements at the back. It’s back three has operated with Andreas Christensen, Cesar Azpilicueta, and Gary Cahill. Other options are Antonio Rudiger and 20-year-old Jake Clarke-Salter, which would be fine were Chelsea not alive in four competitions (The League Cup quarterfinals have the Blues hosting Bournemouth on Wednesday).

The power seems a bit more in Luiz’s hands thanks to some of Conte’s sanctioned loans. Kurt Zouma has arguably been Stoke City’s most consistent performer in an under siege unit, one of 10 backs on season-long loans. The most sense is to find reconciliation, presuming the dust-up is real, and move on in the summer if necessary.

Luiz back in Chelsea squad after being dropped by Conte

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David Luiz‘s pair of stints at Chelsea have been nothing short of a roller-coaster ride of emotions — joyous highs and painful lows.

[ MORE: Pogba, Zlatan back form injuries; available this weekend ]

After returning to the club for a second time in the summer of 2016, Luiz instantly slotted into Antonio Conte‘s three-man backline and was a pivotal part of the Blues’ title-winning team last season.

Much like the second half of his first four seasons at Chelsea, Luiz’s second season (the second time around) has started so hotly. After playing eight of the first 10 games during Chelsea’s ongoing title defense, Luiz was unexpectedly dropped from the squad for the victory over Manchester United.

Now, two weeks later, Conte has announced that Luiz has rejoined the squad and is available for selection when his side visits West Brom on Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold) — quotes from the Guardian:

“David Luiz is in the squad, yes. [His exclusion] was a technical decision. When it’s a technical decision every player has to react well and accept my decision. It’s normal, this.

“I like to speak about the team and the next game that we have to pay attention to. This is the most important thing, not speaking about a single player. I repeat: I don’t like to speak about a single player.”

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