David Luiz was left puzzled by his treatment under Antonio Conte, according to the Italian’s successor Maurizio Sarri.
Luiz had been an integral figure in Chelsea’s title win in Conte’s first season as boss, in 2016-17, but scarcely featured after the 3-0 loss at Roma on October 31 last year.
The Brazil defender had a rumoured falling-out with Conte and a series of injuries, not featuring at all after the February loss at Watford.
He is back in from the cold under Sarri, however, and had one of the 16 Conclusions on Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with Liverpool dedicated solely to him. Lucky boy.
Chelsea’s 59-year-old manager praised the centre-half, saying: “Two seasons ago he was a protagonist. Then six months ago he was not playing, so he was a little confused.”
Luiz has been key to the revival under Sarri, a former banker with a sense of perspective.
Chelsea are unbeaten with five wins and two draws and almost inflicted Liverpool’s first loss on Saturday.
What Sarri likes about Luiz may be a trait which explains his exile under Conte.
“He’s direct. If he has to say something to the manager he has to talk to me,” Sarri added.
“I like very much direct people.
“When I arrived here immediately I had the feeling he’s a very good player for my way of football because he’s a centre-back who is very technical.
“Then I appreciate his qualities as a man. He’s a lot better than I thought before.”