Gianfranco Zola questions Chelsea over decision to sell ‘leader’ David Luiz to Arsenal

The Italian worked closely with the defender at Chelsea last season (Picture: Getty)

Former Chelsea coach Gianfranco Zola has shared his surprise that his old club allowed David Luiz to join rivals Arsenal and believes he will leave a big void – and significantly strengthen the Gunners.

The Brazilian held talks with new boss Frank Lampard last week in which it was made clear that he was no longer an undisputed starter, prompting the centre-back to seek an £8m deadline day move to north London.

Zola worked with Luiz last season as assistant to Maurizio Sarri and knows exactly how big an impact the 32-year-old had, with his absence likely to hurt the Chelsea changing room.

Luiz made a surprise move to the Emirates in the final hours of the window (Picture: Getty)

Speaking on beINSPORTS he said: ‘It’s certainly good business for Arsenal because they are acquiring a player with a lot of personality, a lot of influence, and seeing the type of team that Arsenal are, it will be very beneficial for them.

‘He has big influence with the other players. He is a leader, he definitely is a leader. He always gets the attention of the others. He’s a very intelligent player and person and so the others listen to him.

‘Last year, for example, he was very important for players like [Antonio] Rudiger, they were always looking up to him, especially for a team that is trying to play football from the back – like we were, and like Arsenal are.

‘It’s very important to have somebody who takes responsibility when he plays, very important.

Zola believes Rudiger will be impacted by the sale of ‘leader’ Luiz (Picture: Getty)

‘I don’t think there is anybody as good as him in breaking the lines from the back. He gets on the ball, he’s always got this passing in between the lines, or switching the play, he can make a big difference. For us, last year, he was very important.

‘Considering what Arsenal need, it’s a brilliant move because he’s exactly the type of player they need.’

Asked if Luiz was the kind of player that would guide his centre-back partners, Zola continued: ‘Absolutely. My first reaction was that something must have happened in the changing room because I couldn’t see him leaving the club.

‘They always gave him a big value for what he did in the changing room. [Gary] Cahill leaving was another one, another big voice, I didn’t expect him to leave.’


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