Chelsea defender David Luiz was reportedly dropped for Chelsea's clash with Manchester United on Sunday after he questioned the tactics deployed by manager Antonio Conte in the UEFA Champions League loss to Roma.
The Blues were pulled apart by the Serie A side on Tuesday in a 3-0 loss, and according to Sky Sports News, the Brazilian defender made his feelings known on the team's setup to the manager.
The report suggested Conte was "furious" at Luiz's conduct and "it is understood that on Saturday Conte took Luiz out of training after just 10 minutes, forcing him to watch the rest of the session from the sidelines, although this has been denied by the club."
Luiz is then said to have trained on his own Sunday while the rest of the team prepared for the 1-0 win over the Red Devils. His future is now reported to be "uncertain" at Stamford Bridge.
As noted by Liam Twomey of ESPN FC, when asked about Luiz after the match, Conte was giving little away:
Liam Twomey @liam_twomey
Conte asked by Sky Sports if Luiz has a Chelsea future: "I don't know. He has to work really hard otherwise he is on the bench/in the stand"2017-11-5 19:17:49
Liam Twomey @liam_twomey
Conte on Luiz: "Maybe in the future I can continue in this way or decide a different way. It's normal" #cfc2017-11-5 19:30:55
The 30-year-old defender rejoined the Blues last summer for a second spell in a move that surprised plenty. However, he was crucial to the team’s success under Conte.
Luiz settled into the heart of the three-man defence utilised by the Chelsea manager and was a talismanic figure. While he has previously had a reputation for being erratic, the former Paris Saint-Germain star was forceful, decisive and consistent in 2016-17.
The campaign culminated with a Premier League title for Luiz, though this season has been a little tougher for the Brazilian. He was recently sent off in the 0-0 draw with Arsenal and lapses in concentration have started to creep into his game again.
Per Matt Law of the Daily Telegraph, it appears Conte has no time for players who don’t have his full attention:
Matt Law @Matt_Law_DT
Small aside - Luiz sat next to Kenedy in the stands today. Kenedy also left out of the Chelsea squad after yawning his way through Conte's inquest last week2017-11-5 16:29:48
In the end, Chelsea didn’t miss Luiz too much as the defenders used by Conte in the fixture against United were solid.
Cesar Azpilicueta and Gary Cahill, who flanked Luiz so effectively last season, were excellent, as was the Brazilian’s young replacement Andreas Christensen. Still only 21, the latter has been making a case for more football this term with some wonderful displays. Paul Hayward of the Daily Telegraph was impressed:
Paul Hayward @_PaulHayward
Andreas Christensen has been excellent for Chelsea. There's "depth" in a squad if you give good players a chance to progress.2017-11-5 18:05:41
As noted in the initial report, the situation currently involving the player and manager echoes the fallout between Conte and Diego Costa last term. The striker was marginalised in the summer and will join Atletico Madrid in the January transfer window.
Luiz’s form may have slipped, and evidently, he is out of favour with Conte at the moment after his recent axing. However, he remains a major asset to the team when he’s at his best, and Chelsea supporters will be hopeful player and manager can settle their differences.