Copa America 2011 Player Profiles: David Luiz - Brazil

David Luiz Moreira Marinho is a mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in the personality of a particularly cheery five year old. He also happens to be one of the better - and certainly one of the most interesting - young defenders in the world, and is one of the major keys to Brazil's success in his partnership with the far more solid but far less thrilling Thiago Silva. How will he play in the Copa America? We don't know. I doubt he even knows.

David Luiz, of course, made an instant splash following his big money move from Benfica to Chelsea in January, securing the undying love of Chelsea fans thanks to goals against Manchesters City and United as well as having ludicrous, ludicrous hair. Beyond the obvious contributions, however, his most endearing trait is the delicious naivete with which he defends.

Now, one might expect that to be a bad thing, and in the actual winning football games sense it may well be. If David Luiz was a less competent, skillful player, the idea of his running out of defence to play as a right winger would be absurd. But it seems to work just fine, for the most part, because he happens to be one of the best all-around footballers to find themselves at centre half in at least a generation.

David Luiz can do it all. Shooting, passing, dribbling, aerial ability, tackling, speed and positioning all make for a player who really should be, at 24, one of the best players in the world already. The reason he isn't is because he plays football like it's fun, which is a) adorable and b) one of the last things you want your centre halves to be doing ever.

Javier Hernandez's first minute goal against Chelsea at Old Trafford? Probably David Luiz's fault. Jonathan Walters' at the Britannia? Same again. There's a huge litany of errors that have been made by the big-haired Brazilian in key moments, which are more or less instantly forgiven the second he makes an attacking player fall over with a shimmy of his hips and then whips in an inch-perfect 60 yard cross.

David Luiz's first Chelsea start saw him be the best player on the pitch for ninety minutes and then concede a penalty for no reason at all in the 93rd (it was saved). His second featured a breathtaking volley against Manchester United and then a series of shoulder charges on Chicharito and Wayne Rooney that should have resulted in at least one and a half sendings off.

David Luiz, in other words, changes games. Sometimes he changes them in ways that don't really suit the team, but his plusses far outweigh his minuses, to the point where fans can, more or less, embrace his erratic play. That's not to say they don't expect better things of him, but his faults are correctable with experience. We can only hope that his personality dull as his discipline improves.


Name: David Luiz Moreira Marinho

Age: 24

Team: Brazil

Position: Centre Back

Club team: Chelsea FC (England, Premier League)

Chances Copa America increases transfer interest: Joined Chelsea in January, unlikely to go anywhere, although strong Copa may lead to some interest from elsewhere. Will cost at least £30M to convince Chelsea to part ways.

Role in the team: Swashbucking half of centre back pairing with AC Milan's Thiago Silva

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