David Luiz the Midfielder: Why His Reinvention Can Put Chelsea Back on Top
David Luiz is entering a critical stage in his career as a Chelsea player.
The Brazilian has often split opinions in the Premier League since his arrival from Benfica in January 2011.
The 25-year-old represents the modern footballer by possessing many qualities that would fit nicely into numerous positions. Depending on the footballing culture that the player finds himself in, his position could alter due to the stereotypical qualities looked for in a particular player.
One would think that the media should not impact a player's career in a particular league whatsoever, but the way that the British media has obsessed over Luiz being unable to play the centre-back position is quite baffling.
The British media basically had the audacity to suggest that Brazil, a country that has conceded the fewest goals in World Cup history, could not pinpoint the position that best suits Luiz's qualities.
Luiz is a quite outstanding footballer and the fact that he is excelling in a midfield role under Rafael Benitez should not vindicate those that mocked the player when he played as a centre-back. After all, anticipation, one of the qualities that Luiz has been accused of lacking as a defender, is absolutely paramount to being a successful holding midfielder.
The real reason why Luiz should be utilised as a centre-midfielder in the immediate future is the fact that Chelsea are particularly weak in that area and particularly strong in the centre-back areas.
Branislav Ivanovic, Gary Cahill and John Terry are all outstanding defenders and if you can accommodate two—maybe all three of them if you push Cesar Azpilicueta out of the starting lineup—due to Luiz's versatility then Chelsea instantly become a more solid side that can absorb a lot more pressure defensively.
With Chelsea's sensational blend of flair and creativity from a plethora of attacking options, it is no wonder that Benitez's logic is that the team needs a more sturdy foundation for the likes of Oscar, Eden Hazard and Juan Mata to sparkle. A fundamental that was lost on Roberto Di Matteo at the start of this season.
Luiz can perform many of Jon Obi Mikel's duties to an equivalent standard—tough tackling, aerial battles and positional discipline—and exceed the Nigerian with other facets of the game such as range of passing, drive after intercepting the ball and goalscoring.
With Cahill's ability on the ball, the Blues are not losing a great deal of Luiz's better qualities that benefit the defence when he plays there, which means that Chelsea finally get a wider spectrum of skills from their defensive midfielder than Mikel has ever provided.
One caveat to this positional transformation is the ramifications that it could have on Luiz's international career. The Brazilian could put his starting place for the Seleção in jeopardy by not playing a position that he has occupied over the past couple of years.
That is a matter to be considered during preseason of next season, a year out from the 2014 World Cup, for now the Blues have bigger fish to fry with a Premier League title to be won and for the moment, Luiz operating as a centre-midfielder is the key to making that a reality.
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