David Luiz was left puzzled by his treatment under former Chelsea coach Antonio Conte, according to new Stamford Bridge boss Maurizio Sarri.
Luiz had been an central figure in Chelsea's title win in Conte's first season as boss, in 2016-17, but scarcely featured after the 3-0 loss at Roma on October 31 last year.
The Brazil defender, 31, had a rumoured falling-out with Conte and a series of injuries, not featuring at all after the February loss at Watford.
"Two seasons ago he was a protagonist," said Sarri. "Then six months ago he was not playing, so he was a little confused."
Chelsea are unbeaten in the Premier League this season, with five wins and two draws, and came within minutes of inflicting Liverpool's first loss on Saturday.
What Sarri likes about Luiz could be a trait that explains his exile under Conte.
"He's direct. If he has to say something to the manager he has to talk to me," Sarri said. "I like very much direct people.
"When I arrived here immediately I had the feeling he's a very good player for my way of football because he's a centre-back who is very technical.
"Then I appreciate his qualities as a man. He's really better than I thought before."
Luiz is thriving under Sarri.
"Sarri is giving us a lot of happiness to play football. We are trying to enjoy," he told Chelsea TV.
"He gives us a lot of confidence. He shows us what he wants. He gives us the details about the game."