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5 Reasons Why David Luiz Is a World-Class Defender and Worth His Transfer Fee

Andrew GibneyFeatured ColumnistSeptember 3, 2014

5 Reasons Why David Luiz Is a World-Class Defender and Worth His Transfer Fee

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    Jacques Brinon/Associated Press

    Just the mere mention of David Luiz’s name brings mixed reaction. Love him or hate him, more often than not you have an opinion. Why is he worth a transfer fee of €50 million? Is he world-class?

    No matter what you say, people will argue the opposite, and that varied level of opinion is why we love football so much.

    When Chelsea signed the Brazilian defender for €30 million back in January of 2011, he came highly regarded by those who had watched his career progress in Portugal. Chelsea were picking up a very talented 24-year-old with the world as his feet.

    Since his move, whether it was because of the play of Luiz, or because he was lucky to land at Chelsea, he has been very successful. He has won the FA Cup, and lifted both the Europa League and Champions League trophies.

    When Paris Saint-Germain started to build their squad in the Qatari-era, one of their first moves was to recruit winners. Signing players like Thiago Motta, Maxwell, Alex and the crown jewel, Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

    David Luiz fits that mould, and he brings an increased level of experience and leadership to the PSG back line. It also helps that he will be able to play beside his international team-mate Thiago Silva.

    Despite splitting opinions, David Luiz will go on to lift trophies in Paris, but it will be in the Champions League where his performances will be judged. That is PSG’s ultimate goal, and unlike most of his colleagues, he’s already won it. That experience could become invaluable.

    Here are five reasons why David Luiz is a world-class defender and worth his transfer fee.

Justifying the €50 Million Transfer Fee

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    Jacques Brinon/Associated Press

    One of football’s most favourable pastimes is to compare the amount of transfer fees clubs pay.

    If a club signs a striker, he must be compared to any other striker and how much they cost in comparison.

    When Swansea signed Spanish striker Michu for £2 million in 2012 and went on to score 18 goals in his first season, every striker signed thereafter was compared to how many “Michus” you could buy for the same price.

    It is a fruitless task. No two transfers are really comparable. You have to take into consideration the length of the player's current contract, the age of the player and the two teams involved in the deal.

    One team’s £2 million signing is another team’s £20 million deal.

    David Luiz cost Chelsea €30 million in 2011, so it is not a huge increase to sell him for €50 million three years on. You may not believe he is a world-class player, but there is little argument that he has improved as a footballer since arriving at Chelsea.

    Often criticised for diving into needless challenges and exposing the defensive line, he has learned how to control his urges, and his reading of the game has developed well, which is one instantly noticeable improvement in his game.

    Although the €50 million deal this summer hampered what PSG could do in the market, the move has given them an upgrade in defence. That was one of the areas where PSG could improve from last season, and when you are blessed with Qatari riches, spending that amount is not as huge a move as it would be for clubs on a smaller budget.

The Statistics Don't Lie

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    Themba Hadebe/Associated Press

    It is difficult to compare transfer fees, with David Luiz costing more than his team-mate Thiago Silva when PSG convinced him to sign from AC Milan. However, you can compare statistics in order to give you an idea of where players rank.

    David Luiz definitely compares well against some of the defenders who are regarded as the best in the world.

    During the 2013/14 season, when you analyse the statistics from WhoScored.com, David Luiz averaged 4.6 clearances per game, this compares well against the 5.1 per game from Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany and is slightly ahead of his Chelsea teammate Branislav Ivanovic at an average of 5.0 clearances per game.

    Across in Paris, he is ahead of young 20-year-old Marquinhos, who will play as both David Luiz and Thiago Silva’s backup this season, the Brazilian averaged 3.7 clearances per game for PSG last season.

    David Luiz averaged more interceptions than team-mate John Terry last season with 1.3 and 1.0 per game. He also beat the Chelsea captain when it came to making successful tackles; Terry averaged 0.9 per game, with Luiz up at 1.2. He finished ahead of PSG captain Thiago Silva as well, who averaged 1.1 last season.

    He may still have his critics, but when compared against his new and older team-mates, David Luiz stands up well for himself. When you spend €50 million you want to think that you are improving your side, and there is no doubt that the Parisians have strengthened their back four with the signing of Luiz.

Two Players for the Price of One

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    Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

    Something that David Luiz will bring to the PSG squad is versatility. He may have been bought as a central defender, but there is the chance that Laurent Blanc could push him into the midfield if the opportunity presented itself.

    There are not many players these days who can comfortably switch between defence and midfield so easily. When given the chance to play further forward, he usually grabs it with both hands and looks to not just use his physicality to boss the centre of the park, he loves to push forward to support the attack.

    Last season was actually the first campaign in which he didn’t find the net for Chelsea in the league. He had scored six goals over the previous three seasons, and if Laurent Blanc lets him off the leash a little, he could become a scoring threat for PSG, especially at set pieces.

    Last season, the midfield trio of Blaise Matuidi, Marco Verratti and Thiago Motta were unmoveable as PSG’s midfield, but Luiz gives the club another option.

    His physicality and athleticism could be a great option if PSG come up against a huge physical test. He is bigger than last season’s trio, and it would give the Parisians a whole different dimension.

    PSG love to pass the ball around, often drawing teams out with their intense, constant passing style. However, if that doesn’t work, they don’t have the versatility in their other midfielders to mix it up. David Luiz gives PSG another option now.

    That versatility in itself is priceless.

Respected by Those Within the Game

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    Every football fan and journalist fancies themselves as a football manager. Deep down they always believe that they know more than the man in charge, usually when things go wrong at a club.

    However, the people in charge of making the big decisions at a football club are usually there for a reason. They have the qualifications; they have studied for their UEFA coaching badges and are much more educated and experienced than your average man on the street.

    Rafael Benitez coached David Luiz when he was Chelsea interim boss in 2013. When Jose Mourinho took over permanently and omitted the defender for a league game against Fulham, it was Benitez who jumped to the Brazilian's defence, reports Richard Arrowsmith of Daily Mail.

    He’s one of the best central defenders in the world,

    I was coaching him and I can tell you he’s one of the best in the world, because he has everything. You just have to manage him properly - and then he is one of the best in the world.

    I could explain exactly what I wanted and tactically he is very clever. He needs just the people who can give him the ideas and the instructions of what to do and then he will do them, because he is very clever.

    Benitez is a well-respected figure within football, despite whether fans of certain clubs agree, but he has coached some of the best players in the world.

    Bought for over £20 million and then £50 million and respected by some of the best in the game. David Luiz must be doing something right to keep that respect.

Set to Blossom in Ligue 1's Physical Style

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    Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

    When a player moves to a new club or new league, there is a certain amount of risk attached to every transfer. Players can react differently to the new surroundings, and sometimes it can have more to do with the player’s success than his actual abilities on the pitch.

    Despite scouting a player profusely, you can never guarantee success.

    The nature of Ligue 1 and the physicality of the league will suit David Luiz perfectly and playing beside his international captain and other Brazilian team-mates, should help the 27-year-old quickly settle in France.

    David Luiz’s physicality will thrive in France. It is one of the most demanding leagues in Europe in terms of using your strength and physical attributes.

    After making his move to Ligue 1 from AC Milan, Zlatan Ibrahimovic spoke to Swedish TV station AftonBladet after receiving the Swedish Ballon d’Or in 2012 and he described just how physical Ligue 1 can be, via Fabien Perrin of ESPN FC.

    Ligue 1 is more physical than Serie A, in every match, it's like everyone is as tall as me, or even taller and stronger. And they don't stop running. Anyway, there is a lack of tactical sense but I can't complain about the level of play, all leagues have their qualities and their defects.

    David Luiz will relish this battle. Aerially there are very few players who can match him in the air. Even if he doesn’t win the header, he will make it extremely difficult for opposition strikers to gain an advantage in the final third.

    Physically he can be a bully in one-on-one situations, something he will have plenty of opportunity to prove in Ligue 1.

    Both these positive sides to his game will be accentuated while playing in France, helping him show his critics that he is worth every penny and his performances beside international teammate Thiago Silva will help prove that he is world-Class.

    David Luiz will also get the added protection of PSG’s superb midfield trio. You can argue that Chelsea’s midfield troubles led to some of his tendencies to rush out and expose the defence. Playing in Laurent Blanc’s 4-3-3 will help Luiz concentrate on defending. It has been an area he has improved in at Chelsea.

    There is little doubt that PSG are going to help David Luiz develop further, but the world-class ability he already has will also help the Parisians improve in the areas that they need it most.

    Can any football side really put a price on success and improvement?

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