David Luiz has given his first interview as a new Flamengo player, saying he will have no trouble adapting due to the positive atmosphere in the dressing room.

Bruno Spindel, Rodolfo Landim, David Luiz and Marcos Braz hold the Flamengo shirt, in the player's presentation to the club Image: Marcelo Cortes / Flamengo
Bruno Spindel, Rodolfo Landim, David Luiz and Marcos Braz hold the Flamengo shirt, in the player’s presentation to the club
Image: Marcelo Cortes / Flamengo

Was it a dig at Arsenal? Maybe, maybe not, but the sad thing is we can’t dismiss the idea that David Luiz was referencing a negative atmosphere at Arsenal at his Flamengo unveiling.

Luiz signed a 16-month deal until the end of 2022 with Flamengo

“[It is] Another big challenge in my life,” Luiz said.

“I understand that it’s what I’ve always liked, it’s what gives me oxygen.

“It made me make this decision. I had a few different scenarios. I could have chosen a quieter life, but I like to do what’s in my heart.

“That’s what makes me keep playing football, makes me have the same energy and passion.

“It was crazy to feel this love from the fans, even though I’m not a Flamengo player. It made me think and imagine a lot.

“My adaptation will be easy, I know countless players in the team. You can see they exude joy, compassion and harmony in the squad.

david luiz flamengo
David Luiz Flamengo

“It’s very easy to adapt in an atmosphere carried out in a positive context.

“I have the ambition to do my best for Flamengo, of the best pages I’ll live in my career.

“Flamengo is great and manages to give great things.”

For the 34-year-old Luiz, Flamengo is his sixth club having also played for EC Vitoria (Brazil), Benfica, Chelsea, PSG and, of course, Arsenal.

He’s hoping that playing for Flamengo will help him get back into the Brazil national side ahead of the 2022 Qatar World Cup. Luiz last represented his country in June, 2017, when he played 73 minutes as a DM in a 4-0 win over Australia.

David Luiz's last appearance for Brazil in 2017 vs Australia
David Luiz’s last appearance for Brazil in 2017 vs Australia

David Luiz at Arsenal

David Luiz signed for Arsenal in 2019 for a fee of £7.83m.

He made 73 appearances, scored four goals (vs Rapid Vienna, Bournemouth, Crystal Palace, and Leicester) and received three red cards (vs Chelsea, Man City and Wolves), one of which, at least, was simply given for ‘running while David Luiz’.

Only happens to Arsenal - David Luiz vs Wolves
Only happens to Arsenal – David Luiz vs Wolves

Against Wolves in February this year, David Luiz made the most minimal, and absolutely accidental, of contact with his opponent. In truth, what contact there was seemed instigated by the Wolves player as his leg swung back, but that didn’t seem to matter at all.

Luiz wasn’t trying to go for the ball, so it was a red card.

Accidental or not only matters if he was making a challenge, we were told.

In 2016, it was reported that the FA were doing away with the double jeopardy part of ‘denying a goalscoring opportunity’ if contact was accidental.

The BBC reported it thusly on 14 April, 2016:

Players who commit a foul to deny a goalscoring opportunity will no longer automatically be sent off, football’s rule-making body has confirmed.

The previous ‘triple-punishment’ rule required a red card – and therefore a suspension – as well as the award of a penalty under those circumstances.

However, players committing accidental fouls that deny a goalscoring chance will now be cautioned instead.

But deliberate fouls will still incur a red card.

Many assumed, including numerous journalists (and myself) that this meant if contact was accidental, it would also be covered by this rule and would no longer be a red card.

A key phrase, however, was left out of the BBC’s reporting (and most others) and another included which changed everything.

In other words, we were all confused because of bad reporting.

The actual law does not mention the world ‘accidental’ nor any variation and is clear that the player must be going for the ball, something that wasn’t mentioned in initial reports when the rule changed:

Where a player commits an offence against an opponent within their own penalty area which denies an opponent an obvious goal-scoring opportunity and the referee awards a penalty kick, the offending player is cautioned if the offence was an attempt to play the ball; in all other circumstances (e.g. holding, pulling, pushing, no possibility to play the ball etc.) the offending player must be sent off.

“If there is any contract, it’s him [the Wolves player] to David, that’s what I’ve seen,” Areta said.

“If they [VAR] got it right and they can justify that they got it right, I put my hand up and apologise.

“But the only thing I’m saying is I am sitting here and I cannot see any contact and that’s really frustrating because it’s a big, big moment in the game.

“When I am standing here I would say yes [we will appeal], let’s go straight away because we have a big chance.

“But I don’t know, we have to speak with legal and the club and make the decision on what’s the best thing to do.”

Arsenal did indeed appeal Luiz’s red card, but it was denied because he had made no attempt to play the ball.

The same weekend, Southampton’s Jan Bednarek committed a professional foul and was also sent off, incurring the ‘triple punishment’ but their appeal was successful because Bednarek had tried to play the ball.

It was, like many things during Luiz’s time at Arsenal, farcical.