David Luiz is the star centerback for Benfica and is a joy to watch. He got his call up to the Brazilian national team recently and he seems to be the natural replacement for Lucio. He is still only 23 but Benfica value him at 40 million Euros, with some justification. His unique skill set makes him irreplaceable for a team like Benfica so they will only let him leave for crazy money.
THE MODERN LIBERO
David Luiz is the rare specimen of a positionally sound, physical centerback with the ball playing skills of a midfielder. If you watch Benfica play then you will notice that it is he who often carries the ball out of defense and often makes forward runs to overload the opposition(like Lucio in his heyday). David Luiz is an excellent passer and functions as a deep-lying playmaker when Benfica have possession. Benfica play a very high line and look to play in the opposition’s half so having this type of centerback in the team is a necessity. David Luiz’s pace and stamina allow him to get quickly back into position when his team loses the ball and he can often be seen making crucial last minute interceptions and tackles. In the compilation below it can be seen how often he makes forward runs and what a danger this can be. The team is set up to cover his runs so he is rarely caught out.
AND YES HE CAN DEFEND
David Luiz is arguably Benfica’s best defender. When in possession, the holding player Javi Garcia drops into defense and David Luiz moves out to the left, forming a temporary 3 man defense. He has the skills to play as a fullback so he covers for the forward bursts of Coentrao very well. David Luiz is a solid tackler and always seems to be in the right place due to his excellent reading of the game. When Luisao goes for the aerial challenge it is David Luiz’s job to sweep up behind and deal with any flick-ons. It makes sense for Chelsea to want him because this is a similar role to that played by Ricardo Carvalho , who has recently left the club. David Luiz’s height(1.89m) and leaping ability make him good in the air and valuable at defending set pieces. He is more of an all action type of defender so performs best when paired with a more positionally-disciplined centerback, such as Luisao.
His only obvious weakness is a tendency to get stuck in the challenge and over-commit, leading to either to a booking or an easy goalscoring chance for the opposition. He should improve this aspect of his game as he gets older.
David Luiz is very highly rated and I believe that all this hype is justified. He has unique skills for a centerback and clubs will have to break the bank to convince Benfica to give him up.