Football

Luiz: My Chelsea gamble has paid off

Blues defender took a risk by returning to England, now on the verge of a Double

David Luiz says he took a pay cut to return to Chelsea, but the defender believes his decision has been vindicated as the Blues chase a Premier League and FA Cup double today.

The 30-year-old left Stamford Bridge in June 2014 in a £50 million (S$89m) move to Paris Saint-Germain, after winning the Champions League and FA Cup in 2012 and the Europa League a year later.

Luiz, who claimed two domestic trebles with PSG, returned late in last summer's transfer window in a surprise move which has seen him prove his detractors wrong.

The Brazilian has played a key role in Chelsea reclaiming the Premier League title - his first English championship - after a 10th-placed finish last term.

Now, the Blues are seeking to win today's FA Cup final with Arsenal to complete Antonio Conte's first season as head coach with the double.

Luiz described his return to Chelsea in a reported £32m deal two years after leaving as "a risk", having been unable to shed the "PlayStation" footballer image coined by Gary Neville.

However, Luiz's performance this season has earned praises from Neville.

Luiz said: "I went to Paris for two years and won all the titles in France. I had a great life. I had everything in Paris.

"Then I took a risk to come back to one country that was not that happy with me. That's why it was a risk. And I love the risk.

"In your life, if you don't take a risk, you're not going to taste something new. Not just in your professional life, it's every day.

"I took a pay cut to come back here, but it's okay. God has given me a lot, so I'm very happy with this.

"I don't like to stay always with the easy life, so that's why I took the risk and, today, I am very happy. It was the right decision."

After two years in Paris, Luiz is a more mature performer on the field, leaving the criticisms of his positional discipline and concentration firmly in the past.

Luiz's role in the centre of Conte's three-man defence is integral.

The switch to a 3-4-3 formation, which Conte has highlighted as a pivotal point in Chelsea's season, came during the second half of September's 3-0 loss at Arsenal.

Luiz has an FA Cup winners' medal, but he missed the 2012 final with a hamstring injury before returning as Chelsea lifted the European Cup.

He said: "I don't want to miss this one. I want to play, I want to try to give my best for the team."

- PA SPORT

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