David Luiz's style of defence has rarely been so in vogue as he prepares for Europa League final

Sam Wallace
David Luiz is still playing at the top level for Chelsea three years after returning from PSG - AFP

David Luiz has won four league titles in three countries; a Champions and Europa League in his first spell at Chelsea and he has played under some of the world’s most famous managers including Unai Emery who will be on the opposing bench in Baku on Wednesday night.

For Luiz, 32, the Europa League final against Arsenal is proof that he is still competing at the very top three years after returning to Chelsea from Paris Saint-Germain where Emery was then manager. Luiz says he jokes with Eden Hazard that it is perceived only to be defenders who lose game and attackers who win them. But his style of defender, the ball-playing type who starts attacks has rarely been so in vogue.

 “I love that, it’s the evolution of football,” he says. “I remember when I started, nobody wanted me to play the ball out from the back. Everybody wanted me to kick the ball long. It depended on the style of the coach, but now everybody understands.

“The top six in the league in England, which has four teams in the European finals, they are all teams who play the ball out from the back, play a possession game, try to create. Football is all about gaining time: if you put the ball up in the air, you’re going to lose time. That’s why we try to build from the back, to give the players with the talent the time to receive the ball between the lines, and make the difference.”

Might it mean a longer career for Luiz? “Do you want me to finish my career, or what? I just try to learn every single day. That’s what prolongs our working life, wanting to learn something every single day. In my job, your job, we try to learn we improve ourselves. Life is moving that way. All the kids now in all their different jobs, they are quicker than us, more creative, speedier at understanding things. It’s up to us to realise that.”

Luiz's time with Emery at PSG only overlapped by two months Credit: AFP

Luiz knows Emery better than anyone at Chelsea even though their time at PSG overlapped by just two months in the summer of 2016. "He’s a great coach. He’s passionate. He loves his work. He likes to build teams who are spirited, play with passion and you can see that. He has had the opportunity to work with a lot of young players and I think they have understood his philosophy. It think’s it was great for him to go from PSG to Arsenal because he can now speak French; all the top players in his team now speak French.”