David Luiz’ Blues

Posted on February 2, 2011

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I haven’t felt this down since Poborsky signed for Lazio. Simão’s departure for Atlético Madrid was also hard to swallow, but it was surrounded by so many occurrences (Di Maria and Cardozo arriving, Manuel Fernandes was back, was gone, was back and was gone a day before the Champions League qualifying round, Fernando Santos sacked, Camacho was back…) that Benfica fans didn’t even realize what had happened several months into the season.

David is gone. The skinny 18 year old, that we snatched from Brazil’s 3rd division, grew to become the I will dribble past the opponents forwards and midfield and take the ball upfront myself central defender that we all learned to love. Granted he was not our most reliable central defender, that is the job of our team captain Luisão, but there was something about seeing one of your central defenders dribbling past the opposition’s right back and crossing the ball into the box like an accomplished left winger, that just resonated with the “Stadium of Light” stands.

His constant words of appreciation towards the club and fans, somehow felt more valid and true than they usually do. In a time where changing clubs could be triggered by so many reasons: a) a move to a bigger team, or to a smaller club in a bigger league, b) you are already at the top but feel like changing clubs just for the sake of it (the Ibrahimovic route) c) because your wife wants to (the Beckham route) makes all those kissing the club badge goal celebration’s feel somewhat less than sincere. That was not the case with David Luiz. He was one of us, and it’s always harder to see one of us leave. I don’t even care how much money it involved, there is a hole in our hearts now and what’s more important, in the centre of our defence.

This event incited deep reflection, on my part, as a Benfica fan. On the one hand I can’t help but feel progressively disconnected with a game that has more to do with annual turnovers, profits, bank loans, and dozens of transfers every 6 months, then it has with team spirit, rivalry, glory or tragedy. On the other hand, there was a time when football was a completely amateur activity; the external circumstances are always changing, I guess this shouldn’t influence how we feel about our clubs, and in the end I am sure it doesn’t. However, this is more than just a player leaving, players come and go, the club moves on as it always did, it’s about football in general. It’s about the Premier League only having four teams competing for the title (in practice only two of them do) when it used to be the paradigm of uncertainty and drama. It’s about La Liga being reduced to watching Real Madrid and Barcelona win every week by 8-0 except for the classico (in the case of Barcelona not even that!). It’s about seeing Chelsea, Manchester United and Barcelona reaching the Champions League semi-final every single year.

However, these circumstances are beyond our control. You can’t always get you want, I guess, and this is the state of football as we speak, and we have to deal with it. We couldn’t possibly hold onto David when that London club no one had ever heard about until it was bought, as if it was a toy, by a Russian millionaire which built his financial empire in a less than clear environment was offering to triple his salary. The balance of power will have to be adjusted some day, either by setting a salary cap or some other way remains to be seen. Until then, we will continue to support our clubs and endure our heartaches.

To David Luiz I can only wish the best. He is a brilliant central defender and a player that brings something interesting and unexpected to the game, and that is saying a lot.

by Jack Rabbit

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Posted in: Into row Z