When 32 year old David Luiz signed for Arsenal on deadline day for a fee of around £8m, I was sceptical. Partly because it reeked of short-termism, which reminded me of Lichtsteiner and Sokratis.
While Luiz enjoyed a successful campaign under Maurizio Sarri the previous season, he was 32 and has that crazy moment in him that can cost games. We saw this side quite a lot under Emery. For example - the needless tug on Salah at Anfield and then the penalty he gave away to Watford for their equalizer in that infamous game we conceded 30+ shots.
Before judging a player for what he is, I think context is key and it is important to remove any preconceived notion or bias you may have had.
To thrive, certain players need the right kind of system and to resonate with the coach' ideas. Luiz fits into this category. He had this reputation of poor performances which subsequently led to the sacking of a manager. Now, I'm not suggesting that Luiz got Emery sacked, but the truth is as a professional you are able to give more and concentrate better when you feel the direction that is being set is something you and your team members resonate with. That was clearly lacking under Emery, with The Athletic reporting that Luiz had a rift with one of Emery's staff in front of his teammates to make matters even worse.
Mourinho made a pertinent point regarding Luiz when he signed for us - According to him, Luiz would be a good signing for Arsenal because he would improve his concentration when he is playing for a new club. We have seen exactly that ever since Arteta was appointed - Luiz hasn't really put a foot wrong and is really playing like someone who is in their prime.
He reads situations really well most of the time. When he's confident, he is more assertive in the way he defends. What I mean by this is, despite not being blessed with pace, in certain situations which require him to step up, he will do so and win the ball. Under Emery, he either backed off too much or just lunged in without any conviction. He is also our best defender when it comes to aerial duels on both ends.
But his best quality on the pitch in my opinion are his long balls/line breaking passes. When teams press us high, there is always a threat of Aubameyang making runs in behind and Luiz finding him at will. I would go as far as saying he is one of the best ball playing center halves in the world.
Just have a look at his MOTM display against United - This is Luiz at his best. Stepping forward with real conviction and winning the ball, as well as spreading it with such ease making our build up play tick.
On the other hand when teams just sit off, it gives Luiz more time on the ball which can also be equally dangerous. I still remember doing a preview when we played Chelsea in the Europa league final last season - I said there are 3 players we need to stop. One was Hazard, one was Jorginho and then Luiz. He has become a key player in the way we build up and gives us an added dimension to our attack.
Just have a look at this through ball which showcases another small detail - How good he is as a passer on his weaker left foot. He carries the ball nicely, moving like a midfielder almost, and plays it into the perfect zone from which Aubameyang's pace and composure can take over. When you give Luiz time and space, this is the sort of damage he can cause:
Luiz has also emerged as a leader of the group - always super vocal and organizing those in front of him, as well as in set piece situations. He is the one who leads team talks when the players huddle up before the game. As Arteta said himself, he thinks Luiz will be a coach in the future. I have a funny feeling he might even start off as an assistant to Arteta once he retires, but don't hold me to it.
Off the pitch, he is a mentor to our youngsters and reportedly played a key role, along with Hector Bellerin, in being a mediator for our wage cut talks. He has also heavily praised Arteta off the pitch - coming back to the point I mentioned earlier, when you see a leader you look up to praise someone else, your perception of that person becomes positive. I'm confident Arteta will become one of the best coaches in the world like Luiz claims, but what is most important is that the players think the same. And they will, courtesy of Luiz! When they think that way, we will see our entire squad playing to its fullest potential.
He also has a fun and jovial personality which rubs off on his teammates, creating a happy and positive atmosphere in the dressing room. Luiz has become as an important figure for the club in a short space of time and I'm really looking forward to him leading us to better things next season under Arteta. For £8m, he's been great value for money - that's for sure.