Since Chelsea signed the eccentric Brazilian defender David Luiz from Benfica in January 2011, from the first time I watched him play, I was adamant that we were in fact watching a very talented attacking midfielder, play in the heart of our defence at centre back.
He was forever committing too early, making the wrong decisions, making rash challenges, going to ground too soon and generally making potentially costly mistakes. On the plus side, he was brilliant on the ball, had great passing vision, reads the game well, was skillful, ran with the ball, and had an excellent finish.
Read that back, is that really the qualities you’d expect/want from your Premier League centre half? Personally, I couldn’t think of anything worse.
Almost a year on and we are still seeing the same qualities and weaknesses from Luiz, albeit he has got a lot better at decision making, committing too early and rash challenging, but he’s still not a centre half.
I have constantly voiced my opinion on this via my Twitter account and generally had the same response, many agree with me on this, many say that Luiz is a defensive midfielder and not a centre back, although I do think he could learn that role, I don’t think he is a holding midfielder either, he’s still too risky and casual there and will give away silly dangerous free kicks and lose possession to deep.
For me, I truly believe that at Chelsea we have one of the best creative and flair talents, sat at the back getting criticised for his bad defending. David Luiz is an advanced/attacking midfield player. He has the skill and quick feet to beat defenders, he has the confidence to shoot and score from any angle, he is one of the best if not the best finisher we currently have at the club, he has the vision to split a defence with one pass and the ability to create something from nothing. We need to exploit his strengths, not dwell on and risk his weaknesses, which are all defending related.
Our new Manager Rafa Benitez had the guts to be the first manager who tried what we have all been thinking, last week he played David Luiz in midfield, in the pivot. Although we were playing Nordsjaellend and comfortably winning, Luiz did well there and didn’t look out of place at all, it certainly made me re-emphasis my point that Luiz is a midfielder.
I’m not claiming that he is better than Mata in that position, nor am I saying we should immediately start playing Luiz in midfield, I’m no dreamer, I’m being a realist, I seriously think with some coaching, he can become one of our best advanced midfielders and would be one of our top scorers if played in that position.
Now he would need to learn his role and be disciplined, he would also need to play alongside Obi Mikel, Romeu or Ramires, players who are less likely to dart forward and know the game well enough to cover Luiz when he makes his intentionally dangerous runs forward.
I’m in no way saying that Luiz is a bad defender, I actually think despite his many errors, he is a pretty solid defender, but I just feel he’d be an even better attacking midfielder and we are not using him to his full potential.
I’ll leave with a final point, when watching Luiz next, just look at how eager he is to get forward whenever he has the ball or we are attacking, he has a natural, Brazilian attacking mindset, I’m afraid you will never take that from him.