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David Luiz: Not A Centre-Back?

David Luiz: Not A Centre-Back?

It’s almost impossible to hate David Luiz. The Brazilian defender, who joined Chelsea from Benfica in January 2011 for a fee of €25M, is a cult hero among Chelsea fans, thanks largely to his wacky hairdo & his buccaneering runs from the heart of the Chelsea back 4. The fact that he’s very active on Twitter has only made fans love him more. At the same time, many fans have criticized his defensive showings, which have often been poor. Many have even suggested that he should be played as a wing-back, or even a defensive midfield player.

It’s not hard to understand why. He looks very comfortable when he’s on the ball, & has the ability to pick out a team-mate with that prefect pass. He’s also quick, which means that he is able to dribble past players. But should he play as a wing-back, or even a defensive midfielder? I don’t think so. And here’s why.

Playing as a wing-back is not an easy task… one has to constantly move up & down the field. It’s easy to make that attacking run when your team is in possession, but wing-backs must also track back as soon as possession is lost. That’s where I think Luiz will suffer. While he could work wonders going forward, he could be defensively weak. There have been times when Luiz, playing as a centre-back, has made a forward run, lost possession & then failed to track back, leaving the defence wide open. If he does that while playing as a wing-back, expect him to be a bigger defensive liability than Jose Bosingwa.

Despite his wonderful passing ability & the ease with which he keeps possession, I don’t think it would be sensible to play him as a defensive midfield player. Playing in the double pivot, Luiz would have to stay put in the heart of the midfield more often than not, something he’d find very hard to pull off. It’d be foolish to curb his natural attacking instincts altogether, as he does have a decent eye for goal (who will ever forget that stunner he scored against Manchester United). Also, playing as a defensive-midfield player requires a lot more concentration than most people think. If Luiz is rash as a centre-back, he’ll probably be a lot worse off playing in the midfield.

Despite being termed a “defensive liability” by many, Luiz has shown that he can actually defend very well. He put in a wonderful defensive display against Benfica in the first leg Q/F of the Champions League (he was declared Man of the Match for that performance). Plus, Terry & Luiz compliment each other very well. While Terry’s style screams solidity, Luiz has the ability to fend off attackers while also contributing to Chelsea’s attacks with a pass, run & even a goal.

Whether or not Luiz will be a guaranteed starter for Chelsea this season is debatable. But whether he should play as a centre-back is not.

#Shayne Dias

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