The most surprising deal in this summer’s transfer window has got to be Chelsea resigning David Luiz for £30 million.
The Blues allowed the Brazilian to leave Stamford Bridge for Paris Saint-Germain in a £50m deal just two years ago and, at the time, Chelsea supporters were delighted to receive such a huge fee for the unconvincing defender.
So, the 29-year-old’s arrival has certainly raised eyebrows amongst Chelsea supporters.
After spending £30m on him, Antonio Conte certainly has big plans for Luiz. But what are they?
Well, one advantage Luiz has is that he can play as both a centre-back and as a central midfielder.
Conte received plenty of praise during Euro 2016 when his 3-1-4-2 formation helped his Italian team impress in the competition before a cruel penalty shootout defeat to Germany in the quarter-finals.
However, this is not a formation we’ve seen at Chelsea with Conte opting for a more traditional 4-2-3-1. This approach has seen the Blues win all three of Premier League matches and, despite Luiz potentially being that third centre-back alongside John Terry and Gary Cahill, it seems unlikely that the Italian boss will change his formation for now.
Sticking with 4-2-3-1
So, if Conte is sticking to 4-2-3-1, where does that leave Luiz?
Well, despite playing for PSG for the previous two seasons, it seems as though Luiz still hasn’t learned how to defend. Last weekend, he was given a 2/10 by L’Equipe for his performance against Monaco, a match which they lost 3-1.
Therefore, it doesn’t look likely that Luiz will be replacing either Terry or Cahill in central defence. However, with Kurt Zouma still recovering from a long-term injury, Luiz can act as cover if the two English centre-backs pick up a knock in the meantime.
Luiz in midfield
Instead, it seems as though Luiz will be employed in midfield.
N’Golo Kante has already arrived from Leicester and has proven to be an outstanding signing with his place in the side being safe. However, it seems as though Luiz could partner him, replacing Nemanja Matic.
More attacking than Matic
With Kante and Matic in midfield, Chelsea lack any attacking threat from the pair. They’re both tremendous in a defensive sense but Conte needs a little bit more going forward.
Kante has the ability to shield the back-four by himself so Conte should only use Matic alongside him if he wants a defensive set-up. Therefore, Luiz would be able to add a bit more energy going forward in the Chelsea midfield, knowing that Kante would be behind him to cover.
Without the ball, Luiz can perform a good job protecting the defence alongside Kante but there’s no doubt he adds more than Matic when his side have the ball and are on the attack.
Being used in midfield also means that, if Luiz does make a mistake on the ball, he will have Kante - and the back-four - behind him to spare his blushes.
So, expect to see Luiz start off in midfield alongside Kante but, given his versatility, the Brazilian will no doubt appear in a variety of positions throughout the season.
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