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David Luiz is BACK! Why Chelsea fans should be excited (Conte is!)

COMMENT: What can we say? David Luiz back at Chelsea? In terms of opinion, it's carnage. But when it comes to the Brazilian, what's new?

If 50 per cent of the public love you. And 50 per cent hate you. That means 100 per cent are talking about you. And for David Luiz, he of the 26 million friends on Facebook, nothing could be closer to the truth.

PSG wanted rid. Hang on, no wait, Unai Emery wanted to keep him. He was a success in Paris. No, no, he was a disaster. Antonio Conte never wanted him. No, that's wrong, he personally demanded his signing...

You get the drift. Inside PSG. Outside the club. In Paris. In London. Opinion is split. Divided. There's no getting splinters with this one. Luiz's return is either a sensation or an absolute bust - with nothing inbetween.

After doing a little ringing around on Thursday, let's get some facts on the table.

First, Chelsea have done some decent business: sold to PSG for €50 million two years ago, they welcome the Brazilian back for €20 million less - and in an extraordinarily inflated market.

Second, this was a deal driven by the player. Chelsea fans can be assured. If Luiz had any doubt about returning to Stamford Bridge, Nasser Al-Khelaifi would've put the phone down. Indeed, it was only after Luiz's personal call to the president that he relented and agreed to sell.

Typical Luiz. He trained as normal on Wednesday morning. Chelsea had come in earlier in the week. Luiz was across it all and that morning, before pulling the boots on, he'd spoken to Patrick Kluivert, the club's new sports director. He left the Dutchman in no doubt. He wanted to go. But typical Luiz. There was no downing of tools. No strop. He took part in the morning session like it was just another day.

But when the players broke up, Luiz found things at stalemate. Kluivert had informed Al-Khelaifi of his wish. The offer on the table was enough. Chelsea weren't going to mess PSG about. But the president didn't want to lose the Brazilian.

The significance wasn't lost on Al-Khelaifi. After Zlatan Ibrahimovic's departure for Manchester United, to also lose Luiz meant a genuine end of an era. The most successful in the club's history. Al-Khelaifi, with a new coach in the dugout and a failure to find a marquee name to replace Ibra, was desperate not to lose another standard bearer.

But Luiz was insistent - and also polite. After another word with Kluivert, he put in a call to Al-Khelaifi. They talked about where the player stood in Emery's plans. Where he stood in the club's history. And as both men argued their case, Luiz assured the president, if he had to stay, he'd do so without complaint. The show of humility was enough for Al-Khelaifi. It was over. They'd caught lightening in a bottle for two seasons. It was time for a new cycle. He gave in. And Chelsea - finally - had their new (or old) centre-half.

Emery had stayed on the margins, but his fingerprints are all over this deal. Today, in Paris, they're saying he's upset. Angry. With no replacement found, the transfer window closed leaving the Spaniard with two experienced centre-halves, Thiago Silva and Marquinhos. A kid - Presnel Kimpembe. And in Serge Aurier, a fullback who at a pinch can step in when needed.

But Luiz's return was made back in early August - and in Emery's office.

The pair had scheduled a meeting. Luiz went in expecting a routine chat - and was blindsided. Emery was clear about how much he admired the player. What he had done for the club and in his career. But it was time for change. Luiz would be third-choice this season. Marquinhos' time had come. He'd be Thiago Silva's partner.

Those close to Luiz say he left Emery's office reeling. He hadn't seen it coming. But typical Luiz. After a couple of days (some say a couple of hours) he was back to his old self. And such was his approach to training, that in the final two weeks of his PSG career, he'd actually won Emery around. The coach still rated Marqinhos ahead of his senior teammate, but Luiz's attitude and application had convinced him: PSG would always be stronger with the Brazilian in the locker room.

But today, Luiz is a Chelsea player.

The latest is that Conte couldn't believe his luck. Having spent the summer chasing defensive targets down blind alleys, Luiz fell into his lap. The call had originally gone into PSG about Marquinhos, with those at Chelsea's end of the phone believing he'd be the one they'd be willing to sell. When it was put to Conte he could "have" Luiz, he snapped their hand off. It left many cynics scratching their heads, but Conte is delighted. He genuinely believes this signing is no compromise. Luiz enhances his team. And his options. Three at the back is now a possibility. Managing John Terry is now so much easier. And the player knows the Premier League. Back in Italy for the weekend, Conte is delighted.

And for those scoffing, that should be enough. A Champions League winner. A great character. A great pro. And with the full backing of his new manager. David Luiz will prove 'em wrong. French football's loss is the Premier League's gain.


INJURY TIME

Thiago Maia. Remember him, Blues fans? The Santos midfielder appeared to have one foot inside Stamford Bridge this summer, only for the Rio Games to get in the way.

But Chelsea's re-signing of David Luiz has also strengthened their hand regarding Maia's case.

The Brazilian has just signed with Luiz's agents, Kia Joorabchian and Giuliano Bertolucci. And while PSG are also in the mix, the influence - and new home - of Luiz is sure to work in Chelsea's favour should it become a straight choice between the two.

Chris Beattie
About the author

Chris Beattie

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