David Luiz set for Arsenal contract extension after impressing Mikel Arteta

Arteta wants the 33-year-old to sign on again as he performs a key role in the side

Miguel Delaney
Chief Football Writer
@MiguelDelaney
Sunday 14 February 2021 19:37
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David Luiz contests for the ball in Arsenal’s win over Leeds
David Luiz contests for the ball in Arsenal’s win over Leeds
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David Luiz is set to be offered another extension at Arsenal, as Mikel Arteta greatly values his influence on a young team.

The club’s general policy has been to offer one-year deals to players over the age of 30, so the Brazilian’s current contract runs out at the end of June. Arteta wants the 33-year-old to sign on again as he performs a key role in the side.

Occasionally criticised for the defensive side of his game, David Luiz’s attacking proved particularly important against Leeds United on Sunday. The aggressive way Marcelo Bielsa plays means a backline can be susceptible if they don’t have someone who can play through the press and carry the ball about. This is fortunately what David Luiz excels in. It also brought on Arsenal’s play, and made them more forceful. The Brazilian was the source of one brilliant move when the score was still 1-0, surging up the pitch, collecting the ball from Bukayo Saka, and squaring for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to have a shot deflected over. This is what he is best at. He breaks the lines in the right way.

That stage of the game also brought an inversion of recent troubles, and a reminder of some of the problems David Luiz can bring. The player and his manager might argue it is just bad luck.

Saka went over in the box under the challenge of Liam Cooper shortly after Aubameyang's opening goal. The initial penalty was overturned, but those on the Arsenal side felt it was identical to the passage of play that saw David Luiz sent off against Wolves in the defeat that disrupted their recent winning run.

The calls of “should be a red card and penalty!” could be heard as Stuart Atwell reviewed the monitor. He eventually overturned the decision.

Some close to the Brazilian would say that wouldn’t have happened if it was David Luiz, because there are just perceptions about him, and his play.

An apparent recklessness also runs contrary to the reputation for responsibility the defender has among the squad.

One of the issues with this Arsenal is that most of the key players are very young, which puts a lot of weight on their shoulders over the course of the season. Some of the most famous young sides in history were usually counter-balanced by some hardened senior pros. Manchester United 1995-96 had Gary Pallister, Steve Bruce, Peter Schmeichel and Eric Cantona. Ajax 1994-95 had Danny Blind and Frank Rijkaard.

Serious experience there, among serious young talent. This obviously isn’t to compare this Arsenal to either of those two historically good sides, but the point is the principle.

The likes of Saka, Emile Smith-Rowe and Gabriel Martinelli carry a lot of responsibility.

This is the most important role of David Luiz. He bears a lot of it. He is someone the young players can go to.

He is widely seen as brilliant in the dressing room in that regard, and that is why many people who have worked with him really value him.

This is why many at Arsenal want to continue working with him, not least Arteta.

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