David Luiz’s impact as a new Arsenal signing has been inconsistent. But the legacy he leaves at the club can extend far beyond his tenure, which might be where his true value lies.
Arsenal signed David Luiz as a short-term stop-gap solution to a pressing centre-back problem. Laurent Koscielny threw his toys out of the pram and forced an exit, Nacho Monreal was also shipped out, while only Shkodran Mustafi, Sokratis and several unproven young players remained at the club.
Luiz was a smart, cheap move for a club that was cash-strapped and in desperate need of any centre-back possible. His performances this season have been especially Luizian, some superb, other more disastrous. But his value extends far beyond his play on the pitch.
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In fact, Luiz’s true influence comes in his character, his leadership skills, the impact that he has on the players around him, not just what he offers as a footballer. As revealed in an interview with Otro this week, the Brazilian is ambitious ready to do ‘big things’ in north London:
“It was a top decision. [Arsenal] are a big club. I want to make this club improve and to shine again. The first days were difficult but after that I started to adapt. Now I am so happy and I want to do big, big things with Arsenal.”
And those ‘big things’ will come not as a result of his performances, but from his legacy, which will extend far beyond his time at the club. As Mikel Arteta stated earlier this season, Luiz’s ‘personality and experience’ has been critical:
“He’s a player that has won more trophies than anybody else in that dressing room. We have to use that in a very powerful way. I wanted him to step up, I wanted him to put all his qualities – his personality and his experience – towards the team and he made a big step forward. I am very, very pleased with him.”
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Hector Bellerin, when discussing the overall leadership in the squad, also could not help but praise Luiz and his presence:
“I think it’s really important to have a strong captain but there are also people outside of our leadership group like Papa, like David Luiz, who have gone through a lot and have so much experience. When they raise their voice, they’re listened to as much as the leadership group are.”
While Luiz’s performances have left a little to be desired, especially early on, and he is still extremely vulnerable to the odd maddening error, unlike others in the squad, his value lies beyond what he produces on the pitch. He is a leader, an inspiration, someone who will challenge those he disagrees with, sharpen his teammates, and set an example to the young players around him.
Luiz’s legacy, then, will extend far beyond the time he spends at the club. For £8 million, that sounds like a bargain to me.