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In defence of the David Luiz contract

Arsenal are reportedly set to sign David Luiz to a one-year extension. Many will criticise the move, but there are some reasons in favour of the decision.

On the eve of the deadline, Arsenal have signed David Luiz to a one-year extension. After his performance against Manchester City last Wednesday in which he came off the bench and proceeded to commit a crucial error to hand City the opener before then conceding a penalty and getting sent off in 25 torrid minutes, most supporters have turned on the Brazilian.

Luiz was never meant to be a long-term signing. Laurent Koscielny chucked his toys out of the pram and Arsenal needed to sign a centre-back. Any centre-back. Luiz was available, experienced, and cheap. And so in he came.

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Now, however, the club has committed to the Brazilian for another season, extending his one-year deal for a second campaign. Fans are not happy.

But while Luiz’s performances earlier in the season were concerning and his disastrous showing against City was the nail in the coffin for many, the criticism that this decision will take is undeserved. Yes, it is not necessarily an ideal solution to the major centre-back problem, but there are some reasons in favour of keeping Luiz.

The first is that Mikel Arteta wants to keep him. Immediately after the City, he made that quite clear. Speaking to reporters, Arteta said:

“I’m really happy with David. I want to keep him here with us. He’s been a key role model for me since I joined. I like what he produces on the pitch. I like his influence around the players and the club. I’d love to keep him.”

There are other positives to keeping Luiz. While Luiz would leave for nothing this summer, Arsenal can still gain some value for Sokratis and Shkodran Mustafi. They each have a year left on their contracts. Keeping Luiz allows Arsenal to sell both without leaving themselves short at the position. He also performed well under Arteta, only struggling with Unai Emery’s disconnected unit and then in one performance when he was distracted by his contract situation.

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Luiz will also not have to play next season. William Saliba will arrive in the summer and is set to immediately start, while Pablo Mari or another new signing could partner him. Having Luiz as a third-choice option is ideal. It reduces the impact of his error-strewn play on the pitch but also provides the dressing room with terrific experience, a winning mentality, and leadership, all qualities that Arteta has extolled so far this season.

The final reason is that Luiz is relatively cheap. Per the Athletic, he cost £24 million for the first year. That is a substantial and rather wasteful outlay. But of that £24 million, per the report, only £10 million is on his wages. And other sources have his wages closer to £6 million. Luiz will not cost any more than he did last season, and by signing him for the year, Arsenal could raise double the price to keep him by selling Sokratis and Mustafi — the pair combine for around £10 million in wages plus another £10 million in combined transfer fees.

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Signing Luiz for another year will be ridiculed by opposing fans and questioned by many Arsenal fans. But dig below the surface and look beyond just one wretched performance and there is reason to do this deal.

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