A special breed of confident, ball-playing and technically gifted defenders are on the production line. Gone are the days of the old-fashioned, brutal defenders who simply launch the ball out of play.
As football has transformed into a more modern and attractive game, so have the players who take part.
David Luiz resembles the former, showing the kind of technical ability that is so common with Brazil defenders, and the passing prowess that has enabled him to become an important part of the Chelsea team, experiencing a short stint in defensive midfield.
His pace, strength and work rate allow him to play anywhere in defence, and having a player with such versatility increases the value of his role in the Chelsea team.
The leadership he shows on the pitch is admirable, especially considering he is not even one of the vice captains; he is behind Petr Cech and Frank Lampard. Even when John Terry is missing from the heart of the defence, Luiz is more than a welcome addition to the back four.
Despite his lack of positional discipline, Luiz possesses all of the positive attributes to become a world-class player, although his journey to the top is far from complete.
The general laid-back approach that he tends to give off during a game is suitable when playing against sides who opt not to press to retain the ball. And even though he can perform very well under pressure on the ball, the decision taken by Rafa Benitez to move him into midfield was something of a masterstroke.
There, he has more time to think on the ball, and if he does lose possession, the opponents aren't through on goal. It also gives him the ability to float around the middle of the park, something that he is limited to doing when playing at centre-back.
Nevertheless, a key part of his playing character is the passion he shows for the game, which is unquestionably his most favourable characteristic. This is shown by the tears he shed when Chelsea narrowly lost 1-0 in the Club World Cup final to Corinthians. Most Brazilian players view this as one of the biggest losses in World Football, and it was a tough defeat for Luiz to take.
And that's why it is surprising to see reports in the Sunday Times suggest that Luiz could be one of the first departures under Jose Mourinho, who was confirmed as Chelsea's new manager on Monday morning via the club's official Twitter account.
The reason is that both are emotional characters, and while Mourinho tends to display his passion in a defiant, arrogant manner, Luiz is your more lighthearted, full-of-smiles Brazilian. But both share the same desire to win.
With the distinct lack of quality central defenders about, it would be a foolish move for the former Porto coach to consider selling Luiz. Even more so when Barcelona, only weeks before Mourinho's arrival, were reportedly looking at making a huge offer to take him to the Camp Nou, per Daily Mail.
The very fact that it is the Catalan giants who are said to be interested is enough to deter Mourinho away from the idea of cashing on the versatile defender. To appreciate just how good the 26-year-old is, you need to consider how far he has come since his £25 million move in January 2011.
On his full debut, he made a rash challenge which gifted a penalty to Fulham, and while the direct, closing down approach of Luiz has yet to disappear, he has modeled this into a positive attribute rather than a negative.
Mourinho must appreciate that this is a defender who is entering the prime years of his career, and no matter how chaotic he may be on some occasions, he is still improving bit by bit everyday.
Needless to say, even despite the luxury of Frank Lampard and Juan Mata as set-piece takers, none quite compare to the unique technique that Luiz has to offer. Goals against Nordsjaelland, Aston Villa, FC Basel and many more have shown just how much he can improve one part of his game.
Sure, his positioning needs work and perhaps he needs to contain his emotions. Refusing to get involved in controversial incidents—such as in the FA Cup semifinal with Sergio Aguero or his tussle with Rafael against Manchester United—would highlight his growth in terms of maturing as a player.
Having a mentor, or a father-figure if you will, like Mourinho would definitely add something extra to Luiz's game. We've seen the likes of Lampard and Terry praise his man-management skills, giving players the belief to go on and realise their potential.
Granted, Luiz already has plenty of self-confidence, but a wise head like Mourinho could guide him to greatness for sure.
It's easy to see the difference between the more vulnerable and error-prone figure of last season and the confident, happy-going Luiz we saw in 57 games this season. So one can eagerly anticipate the effect that the 50-year-old coach can have on this exciting player.
That being said, it appears Mourinho is ready to come into Stamford Bridge and give everybody, bar the out-of-contract players, a chance to impress him in preseason. He claimed, in his first interview with Chelsea TV, that all the players would be given the opportunity to stake their claim for a place in his side.
And judging by the year David Luiz has had at Chelsea, you could say he's fully deserving of a place in Jose Mourinho's lineup next season.
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