Brazil defender David Luiz insisted he was over his World Cup heartbreak as he was unveiled as a new Paris Saint-Germain player at a plush hotel in the French capital on Thursday.
“The days immediately after were very difficult. Obviously when you fail to reach an objective you are disappointed, but football is great because it gives you the chance to bounce back quickly,” said the 27-year-old centre-back, who joined PSG from Chelsea on a five-year deal in June.
He arrived in Paris at the start of this week after a holiday in the wake of a traumatic World Cup campaign on home soil, which saw Brazil eliminated at the semifinal stage in a record 7-1 defeat to Germany.
The former Benfica player captained the Selecao in that game in the absence of his defensive partner and new PSG team-mate Thiago Silva, who was suspended, and he could not hold back the tears after the defeat in Belo Horizonte.
His performances throughout the competition were the subject of criticism and have led many to question Qatar-bankrolled PSG’s wisdom in spending a reported 50 million euros (£39.9m, $67.1m), a record sum for a defender, to sign him.
His former manager at Chelsea, Jose Mourinho, has since said that Luiz was not a first choice at Stamford Bridge anyway and that he “was a good professional and we will miss him…but from a football point of view we believe our squad is stronger this season than it was.”
However, Luiz insisted that his track record, which includes winning the Champions League with the London club in 2012 and the Europa League in 2013, is a measure of his true quality and that Brazilian defenders are better than their World Cup meltdown suggests.
“The qualities of those who were at the World Cup is not up for discussion,” he said at the brand-new Peninsula Hotel, close to Paris’ emblematic Arc de Triomphe, which was built with Qatari money.
“Before the World Cup we played in lots of games too. In football, we always speak about the last match and the next one and I can’t wait to play the next match because I miss being out on the pitch and I try to improve every day.
“Ten or 15 years ago everyone wanted attacking players from Brazil but now there are also lots of defenders playing for big clubs. That shows the quality of Brazilian defenders.”
Of Mourinho, he said: “It is normal that he should say what he said. If he had said that he missed me, he would have been contradicting himself. But now I listen to my new coach and what matters is what Laurent Blanc says.
“Mourinho and Chelsea, that is in the past. I was very happy there. But now I am looking at the present, in this great club, with a marvellous project for the future.”
Luiz will play no part in the first game of PSG’s defence of the Ligue 1 title, away to Reims on Friday evening, but he said he hoped to be ready in time to make his debut for Blanc’s side when SC Bastia visit the Parc des Princes next weekend.
Silva could also make his first appearance of the new campaign in that game and the Brazilian duo are almost certain to be Blanc’s first-choice centre-back pairing.
“We are very good friends. We have played very well together for a long time,” said Luiz of Silva, who is captain for club and country.
“We barely need to look at one another to have an understanding. It is good to have someone next to you who knows you.”Reuters