Wednesday 17 January 2018

David Luiz: When Jose dropped me I turned to God

Brazilian insists no player is more important than the team as he bids to win back place

David Luiz was axed entirely from the Chelsea squad who beat Fulham after the Blues' Champions League defeat against Basel
David Luiz was axed entirely from the Chelsea squad who beat Fulham after the Blues' Champions League defeat against Basel

Jeremy Wilson

Footballers react in all sorts of different ways to being dropped. Some complain directly to their manager. Others sound off to the media or their agent.

Then there are those who refuse even to sit on the bench or try to engineer a way out of their club. Some even knuckle down and try to prove their manager wrong.

And then there is David Luiz, who, having been axed entirely from the Chelsea squad who beat Fulham on Saturday, admitted he sometimes sought strength and guidance from his religious faith.

"I know that God knows everything in my life, so, when I don't play, sometimes I consult," explained Luiz. "Sometimes I think 'today God doesn't put me in to play, he takes me out, so there is an injury or something like that'. That's how I think."

Adamant

Luiz is also adamant that there has been disproportionate attention on his own situation, even though Jose Mourinho openly admitted that he had been dropped against Fulham as a direct consequence of his performance in the Champions League defeat against Basel.

Asked how he took being left out, Luiz said: "How do you know I was left out? When other players are left out of the team people say nothing. I don't need to prove anything. Everyone knows who David Luiz is. I want to play football and enjoy myself on the pitch, so when I have an opportunity to play I want to enjoy it. I am just one more player in the team. Sometimes the manager puts me in, sometimes not, so it is his choice.

"This is a big club with many, many good players. We don't need to prove anything. It's natural. Last year there were seven players left on the bench, and next year it will be the same. The boss chooses his 11 players to play."

And what has been the message from Mourinho to his players? "He asked me to play my football with high intensity, a high attitude from the start. He is a manager who wants everyone to work hard, not just David Luiz."

Juan Mata and Fernando Torres, who both also shone in Chelsea's 2-0 League Cup win over Swindon on Tuesday after being dropped against Fulham, were equally diplomatic.

Mata provided the assist for Torres' goal, but the effort he made to improve his work-rate off the ball was also noted by Chelsea's coaching staff. With Oscar Mourinho's preferred choice in the No 10 role behind the main striker, Mata stressed he is content to start in any of the three attacking midfield positions.

"I've played in three different positions," said Mata. "In the beginning I was playing as a left winger, then on the right and last season as a No 10.

"I feel comfortable playing in any offensive position. It's better if a player can play in lots of different positions rather than just one."

Mata admitted he needed regular football in order to find his very best form. "I've been training hard, but it's not the same," he said. "You improve your rhythm by playing games. It's different to play than to train."

Mata also stressed his focus had not been disrupted either by his recent omission from the team or the debate that has been raging about his situation.

Improving

"It's easy for me to focus on football and just do what I have to do," he said. "The only thing I have in my mind is to keep working, keep training hard, keep improving as a player and keep scoring and making assists. That's what I did."

Torres actually did most on Tuesday to stake his claim to start against Tottenham by scoring one goal and creating Chelsea's second. "It was my first 90 minutes since the Bayern Munich game in the Super Cup," said Torres. "I was talking with Juan Mata just now, and we both said that sometimes you don't realise it's been so long until you play."

Samuel Eto'o has started Chelsea's past two Premier League games, but Torres believes that all the strikers will get their opportunities. "It's nice to have this competition in the team," he said. "There'll be time for all of us to play in important games and score some goals." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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