LONDON — Andreas Christensen has told ESPN FC that David Luiz helped him a lot when he broke into Chelsea’s starting XI this season, likening the Brazilian’s personality and influence within the squad to former captain John Terry.
Luiz has been a popular figure with teammates and staff in both of his spells at Stamford Bridge, though his future has been the subject of intense speculation since a clash with head coach Antonio Conte led to him being dropped for Chelsea’s 1-0 Premier League win over Manchester United in November.
– Read the full Q&A with Andreas Christensen
Christensen was the man to step in for Luiz on that day and the 21-year-old has barely put a foot wrong since, keeping the former PSG defender on the substitutes’ bench and prompting Conte to label him the “best surprise” of Chelsea’s season with his consistently nerveless performances in the middle of a back three.
Such situations can often lead to dressing room tension, but Christensen insisted that Luiz’s jovial demeanour and selfless attitude have helped ensure that their competition for a starting spot has remained good natured.
“David makes it easy for everyone, that’s just the way he is,” the Dane told ESPN FC ahead of Wednesday’s launch of Chelsea’s “Say No To Antisemitism” campaign, which is backed by owner Roman Abramovich. “He’s a little bit like JT. I remember one of my first visits [to Chelsea] and David was here. I wanted to take a picture with him and he did this weird face to the camera. He’s just the same now.
“Coming into the team [as a young player] he’s a little bit like JT — you just feel his vibe and he wants to succeed as well. He’s made it a lot easier [for me] to come back from the loan spell and come into the team.
“Having met him and been in the squad with him before, and then come back, he wants the best for the club, for everyone in it, and you can feel that every day.”
Asked if he felt awkward taking Luiz’s place, Christensen replied: “No. You don’t think about that stuff. I go into every game trying to perform so he can’t get his place back, and he tries to perform like he wants to play as well. You don’t think about that — you just try to perform every time.”
Liam is ESPN FC’s Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.