Former Chelsea star David Luiz has insisted that the Blues are a better team than they were last year, with the Paris Saint-Germain star set to face his old club in the Champions League later this month.
The Brazilian defender, who drastically split opinion during his time at Stamford Bridge, was sold by Jose Mourinho last summer to the tune of £50 million - a world-record for a player in his position - but believes the squad cultivated since then is better than the one he left.
Luiz pointed specifically to the addition of former Arsenal captain Francesc Fabregas, and stated that the Spanish play-maker brings a healthy balance to the team.
"Chelsea are better this season," Luiz told RMC, as relayed by ESPN.
"Above all, they are better balanced following the arrival of Fabregas. He's perhaps the player they were missing: he balances the midfield, makes the team play well and knows how to hold on to the ball from time-to-time.
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"With the arrival of Diego Costa - a warrior forward who always wants to score and challenge defenders - and the continuity provided by Mourinho in the dugout, it's logical Chelsea are stronger this season."
"With the arrival of Diego Costa - a warrior forward who always wants to score and challenge defenders - and the continuity provided by Mourinho in the dugout, it's logical Chelsea are stronger this season"
The much-maligned centre-back, who pundits used to regularly tear into for his defensive deficiencies during his time in the Premier League, went on to dispel the myth that there are any bad bones between himself and Mourinho, suggesting that the media was simply trying to create wedges were there are none.
"I still have a good relationship with him. Mourinho is someone who works in the same way with all his players, without making any difference between them. People have tried to find a problem between Jose and me, but that problem has never existed."
Indeed Luiz’s return to west London should receive a raucous reception. The former Benfica man became a fan favourite at Stamford Bridge thanks to his appearance and friendly demeanor, and his first appearance against Chelsea couldn't come on a bigger stage.
With the Blues having knocked out PSG during last season’s Champions League the onus is on them to once more get the result over the two legs. On paper they’ll be coming up against some of the world’s best players in Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva but the French champions haven’t been nearly so dominant domestically this campaign, and they sit third in the Ligue 1 table.
The better side
In contrast Chelsea are cruising in the Premier League. Their 1-0 victory over Everton mid-week, a clash marred by unsavoury scenes for which both clubs have been charged, leaves them seven points ahead of Manchester City in first place, and they qualified for the Champions League knockout rounds with consummate ease.
As such it’s easy to side with Luiz’s theory that this term’s best possible starting XI is an upgrade on the one that only managed a third-placed finish in England’s top flight. The additions of Diego Costa and Loic Remy have certainly fixed any flaws leading to a lack of firepower, and others such as Thibaut Courtois and the aforementioned Fabregas have ensured that the squad’s overall quality is a match for the very best sides in Europe.