After a summer spent representing his country on the pitch and then enjoying life there off it, David Luiz is back at work well aware just what a pivotal time of the season this is.
We caught up with the Brazilian defender at Cobham this week and found a man as fun and full of beans as ever, despite the daily grind footballers know to expect in the early throes of pre-season.
Before conversation turns to the here and now, though, David Luiz casts his mind back to early June and a landmark day in Melbourne. It was the scene of his first appearance for the Brazil national team in well over a year, just reward for the fantastic campaign he enjoyed at Stamford Bridge.
‘It was great to be back,’ he smiles. ‘I felt very good there. It was hard to be out so it was a great feeling, it was like my first game.’
He nearly marked the occasion with a goal but saw his header crash against the bar – ‘Almost! Next time…’ he promises – and then came a few weeks to relax and recuperate, joined in Brazil by family and friends, and plenty of sun and sand, of course.
Now the focus is on preparation. At 30, pre-seasons offer few surprises to David Luiz. He says his first under Antonio Conte so far has not felt especially different to what he experienced under the boss last season, having joined on deadline day with pre-season in Paris a distant memory.
‘It’s difficult to be back in training, it’s a bit hard pre-season, like always! But we have to prepare ourselves in the best way because now is the time to get the oxygen for when we need it during the season, so now is the time to work hard and rest well.
‘We work hard at Cobham, and then at home we need to be careful with the food, with the discipline to sleep. I have stuff I do at home to recover well also, so it’s part of our job.
‘It’s not just the five or six hours we are here at Cobham, it’s important to act like a professional every day of the year.’ Even when it’s raining!
Finally, a word on the forthcoming campaign. David Luiz’s aims are as clear as day. He is seeking more silverware to add to his already well-stocked trophy cabinet.
‘When you play for a big club you have to have big ambitions. Chelsea play all the competitions and we try to win all the competitions, so it’s my ambition too. We will try to win everything.’