If one thing has become painfully obvious in the last month or two, it is that David Luiz is not a centre back. In Chelsea’s recent games they have conceded goals like they haven’t done in a long, long time. The most obvious example of this was the 5-3 loss to Arsenal after which Jamie Redknapp observantly pointed out that David Luiz doesn’t want to play as a centre back, or at least he doesn’t look like he wants to. So where should he play?
Luiz can’t seem to play at the back. To put it gently, he is a liability to the Blues defence. He hasn’t even been at the club for a full season yet and has given away numerous penalties in a Chelsea shirt. Not only does he directly threaten the Chelsea goal by giving away unforced and frankly stupid penalties, but he also leaves the defence open many times each game. When he plays, he bursts forward on a regular basis, leaving his partner (be it Terry, Ivanovic or Alex) exposed and alone at the back. This, in a slightly less obvious way, threatens the Chelsea goal.
Recently he has come in from criticism for all these reasons from the pundits. However is it all bad? Maybe he is simply being played in the wrong position? While watching the Chelsea game against Genk (the one in which the blues ran riot winning 5-0), I was struck by the comment of Ray Wilkins that Luiz “sprays the ball around like a central midfielder”. He really can play the ball around well. The biggest problem for Chelsea now being that the wily Wilkins is no longer at the club to knock this gem of an idea into Andre Villas-Boas’s head.
Not only does he spray the ball around well but he has great feet. The feet of a Brazilian. We regularly see Luiz bursting forward from the back, going past numerous players before playing a challenging ball to the forwards or midfielders, showing just how good his technical ability is. Unfortunately, he just as equally loses the ball by trying to drive forward in the same fashion.
So his technical skills still need a little refining. However I feel they are already close to the required ability of a central midfielder. The larger problem is his frame of mind. He holds the ball for too long, makes tackles he doesn’t need to and picks up needless bookings – regularly. He would require significant training in this department. The biggest problem is that he is almost too excited and too keen to get involved. Although this is a problem, would you rather have to tell a player to relax or get them excited about playing football?
So to me David Luiz looks like he has the natural ability of a central midfielder. However, he needs training to really succeed as a midfielder. However will Villas-Boas take the plunge? We will have to wait and see.