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OPINION: 'Hero' David Luiz has moved to bitter rivals Arsenal in the worst way

  /  autty

David Luiz has joined Chelsea's bitter rivals Arsenal and Blues die-hard Callum West believes he has tarnished his legacy by doing so...

On May 19, 2012 David Luiz played for 120 minutes, ostensibly on one leg, and then stuck his penalty in the top corner in the shootout as Chelsea beat Bayern Munich in their own back yard to become London's first European champions.

He was a hero that night and his performance typified everything great about David Luiz. Playing with an injury, he put the team above himself, he was vicious in the tackle and composed on the ball.

Qualities Chelsea fans had vociferously come to appreciate in the year and half since he'd been signed on the same January transfer deadline day as Fernando Torres.

Luiz made his debut shortly after away to Craven Cottage, and his performance that night made many of us think we might have signed the best centre half in the world. His stunning equaliser in our victory against Manchester United seemed to confirm it a few weeks later.

However, in the return fixture at Old Trafford he slipped in the first minute to allow Javier Hernandez through to score and with that ruin any chance we had of retaining our title. This was the first real sign of his propensity for a howler, a quality that has, perhaps unfairly seemed to define him as a footballer. Especially after Gary Neville famously referred to him as a PlayStation footballer.

Despite this, throughout his first spell at the club he was an immensely popular figure with the Stamford Bridge faithful who appreciated his passion on the pitch and the fact that he engaged and interacted with them off it, especially in a time where, with Benitez as manager, the club seemed particularly distant from the fans, and when he left in 2014, although the deal made sense there were many at Stamford Bridge who were disappointed to see him go.

Luiz's return in 2016 was triumphant, the signing appeared to come out of the blue, but he was perfectly suited to the sweeper role he played in Antonio Conte's back three. He was imperious at the heart of the defence as Chelsea swept aside their rivals on the way to the Premier League title, the only trophy Luiz had not won in his first spell.

While there was a return of the occasional clanger in the seasons that followed, he was still an integral figure in the team that defeated Arsenal to win the Europa League last season.

The departure of Gary Cahill this summer meant that on the playing side Luiz was the only hero of Munich left, however, the return of Frank Lampard as manager was also the return of the captain of that final, and while Luiz is a popular figure with the fans, no one in the dressing room can match the popularity of Lampard.

Luiz has clashed with managers before and was essentially ostracised from the squad for much of the second season under Conte. Conte was loved at Stamford Bridge by the fans, but not those behind the scenes and there was an understanding that he was going to leave at the end of the 2017-2018 long before he finally did.

With Lampard, it is different, this is not a battle Luiz can win, not with the fans nor the board. If you're not with Frank, you're not with us.

The timing and circumstances of his departure leave a bitter taste, not to mention the destination. Not only are Arsenal our rivals on the pitch, but after Tottenham they are the most hated club for many Chelsea fans.

The move leaves us desperately short in his position. With Rudiger injured, we have only three fit centre halves, none of whom were playing regularly at Stamford Bridge last season. His behaviour in forcing this move through sticks in the throat.

Only last month he was talking about his love for the club and how he looked forward to playing with talented youngsters like Mason Mount and now he is off to Arsenal.

I'll always cherish the memories of Munich and his performances under Conte and for that reason I still have mixed feelings about Luiz, and I cannot summon the same anger I had when other players I loved joined a rival club, like Poyet or Gallas.

However, when Arsenal visit Stamford Bridge in January I'm not sure he will get the hero's welcome he did when he returned in 2016.

He has forced a move to our bitter rivals through being a disruptive figure in the dressing room just days before the start of the season and a massive game against Manchester United, by undermining not just any manager, but a manager who is the greatest player in the club's history.

Luiz has undoubtedly tarnished his legacy.