Thursday 25 May 2017

David Luiz 2.0: still fun, a bit less maddening & now with the chance to win over Brazil fans like he did Chelsea's

Last week, David Luiz was named in the Brazil squad for the June friendlies against Argentina and Australia.

That might not immediately strike you as remarkable. But it was Luiz's first call-up in over a year, and his first under Tite, the master navigator who has guided the Seleção into calmer waters after the stormy misery of the second Dunga era.

It would be a push to describe his 14-month absence from the squad as an exile, but it might have felt like one. Now, he has the chance to win over Brazil's fans in the same way he has Chelsea's over the last year.

Read my piece on David Luiz's career renaissance on the Football.London website.

Wednesday 24 May 2017

Farewell to Maxwell, the decade's most underrated player and the man who made PSG cool

The Paris Saint-Germain players came out onto the Parc des Princes pitch wearing t-shirts bearing his name, then gave him a guard of honour. All of the mascots donned his trademark No.17 jersey. Unai Emery handed him the captain's armband on his 213th and final appearance for the club. A video message recorded by Zlatan Ibrahimovic was played on the big screens.

It was an all-singing, all-dancing send-off, and it came as little surprise when a couple of tears escaped down the recipient's cheek at full-time. Rarely, even in a career spanning over 17 years and taking in countless adventures, can Maxwell have felt so much love.

Only the delusional, of course, would claim that the Brazilian belongs to the same elite club as Alonso, Totti et al. Nor does he have one-team loyalty credentials or a drawer bursting with international caps. But there's a good argument to be made that Maxwell, the Little Full-Back That Could, has been among global football's most underrated players over the last decade or so.

Read my piece on Maxwell's farewell on the Unibet website.

Wednesday 17 May 2017

Sultan of stepovers: Remembering Denílson, Brazil and São Paulo's rubber-legged Pied Piper

There he goes, steaming down the flank with a gaggle of would-be markers in tow, doing one, two, three [*fast forward to save time]... nine stepovers and whipping the ball into the box.

Yep, it's Denílson, the rubber-legged wing whippet and self-described social "tsumani", solely responsible for 70% of playground grazes sustained in the summer of 1998.

The former São Paulo, Flamengo, Palmeiras and Seleção winger is the subject of my latest South American Cult Heroes column for Unibet.

You can read it here.