David Luiz: The Long-Term Defensive Midfielder

Last night saw David Luiz take up the role of defensive midfielder again, something that he has not been asked to do for quite a while. ...

Last night saw David Luiz take up the role of defensive midfielder again, something that he has not been asked to do for quite a while. I thought he had a mixed game; we saw the best and the worst from him.

Some very strong tackles were made, but then he was also outsmarted on more than one occasion. Some spectacular long balls were completed, and some simple passes were misdirected. He was far more mobile than Mikel which allowed him to make a lot of interceptions, but he seemed uninterested in holding his ground in front of the back four when that was the right move to make. There were even a couple of nice little runs, but of course to combat that he also lost the ball breaking out of defence a few times too. This sounds pessimistic but I think everybody would agree he made a huge positive contribution to the match from that position. 

Oh and he scored the winning goal with the last kick of the game, that was quite good. Not a good idea to watch him you've have a heart condition.

Despite seeing the best and the worst from him though last night, I still think he rightfully earned the man of the match award in my book. His aerial dominance, physical presence and general energy made him nearly impossible to deal with from Basel’s point of view, and I think he was largely the reason for why we seemed so comfortable for the majority of the match.

This all makes me wonder for the first time, is he the new defensive midfielder we need? Most fans will tell you Mikel needs to be replaced, some because they don’t think he is good enough, the rest because he is too inconsistent. We’ve known that Luiz can play here for a while, but this is the first time I’ve thought about him being the long-term solution to that role.

He is already very effective, and with more positional training and match experienced I think it could become his most effective position. He has been our best centre back this season, but there is no doubt that he has some flair and talent that is under utilised while he stays there.

Furthermore, unlike Mikel, he doesn't slow down a counter-attack, if anything he speeds it up. In the right situation he has the ability to break forward effectively, and he also has the range of passing to find Mata or Hazard as they make their move. 

What he needs to work on more than anything else is his decision making. He needs to learn when to chill, that thing that Mikel loves doing, and when to make his forward runs, his speculative passes, his crunching tackles etc. In this respect Mikel and Luiz are total opposites. 

If you want to move him back into defence because he makes too many errors, well then all you have really done is moved his errors into a position where they are far less excusable. It doesn't solve anything. In any case, his positive contributions far out-weigh his mistakes in my opinion.

If we were to move him into midfield, rather than signing a new player in that position which is the other option, we could just look to sign a new centre back (on the cheap) instead.

We arguably wouldn’t even have to sign a new centre back to make up the numbers, because we have Terry, Ivanovic, and Cahill all there already, and Chalobah coming back to us. That would give us four centre backs, with the potential for Luiz to drop back into defence if we ever have a crisis with injuries.

On Chalobah, he has had a great season at Watford, and let’s hope that they can get promotion. It may well be in his best interests to loan him out again, this time to a Premier League club, but if he were to come back to Chelsea, into a setup where Ivanovic provides cover for right-back and Luiz is now primarily a midfielder, there would be room for him to play from time to time and build up both Chelsea and Premier League experience that way.

This is an option, not necessarily THE option, but I can certainly picture it working out, and it would save the club some dollar for sure. If rumours are true, and I believe they are, that Falcao and Shurrle are already on their way then this will be very important. Bringing Chalobah back into the mix / signing a value-for-money centre back would be enough defensive cover if we did move Luiz into the midfield. 

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Carefree & KTBFFH!


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