Chelsea's Maurizo Sarri on David Luiz: He's 'able to play my football'
LONDON -- Maurizio Sarri said that David Luiz has surprised him "as a player and as a man" since he took over as Chelsea head coach in the summer.
Luiz has played every minute of Chelsea's first seven Premier League matches this season and impressed under pressure against Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, clearing one goal-bound header from Roberto Firmino off the line in an entertaining 1-1 draw.
It is a remarkable return to prominence for the Brazil international, who was frozen out of the first team by Antonio Conte following a training-ground argument last season and did not feature for Chelsea in the final three months of the campaign.
Luiz has openly admitted that he would likely have left Stamford Bridge last summer if Conte had stayed, but Sarri views the 31-year-old defender as ideally suited to how he wants to coach his players on and off the pitch.
"I have to say he is better than I thought before, really better," Sarri said of Luiz. "As a player and as a man.
"I don't know [what happened] before, but when I arrived here immediately I had the feeling he is a very good player for my way of football because he is a very technical centre-back. Then, I appreciate very much the man."
Elaborating on Luiz's qualities as a man, Sarri added: "He is direct. If he has to say something to the manager, to talk to me, he [comes] direct to me."
When it was put to him that Luiz's direct style may have been the cause of his problems with Conte, a smiling Sarri replied: "I don't know. I like very much direct people.
"He was a little confused [when I arrived] because two seasons ago he was a protagonist [in the team], and then [he went] six months without playing.
"I think he is very sweet, able to play my football for his characteristics. He is very technical, he is able to start very well the action from the defensive line, so he's very suitable for me."
Luiz also had glowing praise for Sarri after the Liverpool draw, which leaves Chelsea third in the Premier League with 17 points from seven games.
"Sarri is giving us a lot of happiness to play football," Luiz told ChelseaTV. "We are trying to enjoy. He gives us a lot of confidence. He shows us what he wants. He gives us the details about the game. He works hard in every situation. And also as a human he's a fantastic person.
"Every single day he says to us 'you have the best job in the world, so you have to enjoy'. You have to try to do this with a big smile. Many people in the world don't have this privilege."