Uh oh. Have Chelsea just made a big mistake in the transfer market? After failing with moves for Kalidou Koulibaly and Alessio Romagnoli, Antonio Conte decided to turn to David Luiz on deadline day in a bid to add a top class defender to the club.
But French football expert Laurens Julien doesn’t feel Luiz is top class and has suggested that “PSG can’t believe their luck” after they agreed a deal with Chelsea to sell David Luiz for £38million adding “He (Luiz) is a liability for PSG more than anything else.”
Luiz has always struggled to convince many that he is a top level defender, and it seems Laurens Julien is one of those that feels he is vastly overrated: “He hasn’t improved since leaving Chelsea. He’s probably come back a worse player.”
“I’ve watched him pretty much every weekend since he joined PSG, I can hardly remember four games when he was good… he’s had some shockers.’
That’s not what Chelsea fans will have wanted to hear. I’ve seen lots of Chelsea fans trying to convince themselves that Luiz has completely changed and improved as a player during his time in Paris – but according to Laurens, who says he has watched Luiz every week, that is not the case. Worryingly he even suggests that the Brazilian has regressed during his time in France.
Luiz is very tidy in possession, and completed 92% of his passes last season. He also averaged a huge 62.38 forward passes per 90, that is more than Terry and Cahill managed combined. Chelsea’s reported primary target Koulibaly is also a very forward-thinking defender, on that front Luiz could be a suitable alternative. Another strength for Luiz is his interceptions, he made 2.58 per 90, Cahill (1.66) and Terry (1.72) both managed less.
There’s no denying that Luiz is a bit of a workhorse defender he gets about the pitch and that is why another strength for Luiz is his interceptions, he made 2.58 per 90 last season, Cahill (1.66) and Terry (1.72) both managed less.
But these stats do fit Laurens Julien’s narrative. Luiz makes a lot of defensive errors; despite only playing 25 Ligue 1 games, Luiz made 4 defensive errors, Cahill and Terry combined only made 3.
Luiz also struggles in other key defensive areas. For example he only made 0.34 blocks per 90 last season, and won a miserable 1.16 aerial duels. His weakness in the air is particularly worrying and could see him exposed in the physical Premier League. Too often Luiz has been the victim of an embarrassment from top level strikers and he will need to try and improve his focus this season to prevent more of that in a Premier League now packed with attacking talent.
Luiz has always had a tendency to move out of position and attack when perhaps he shouldn’t. You would expect Conte to try and drill more discipline into the Brazilian. Aged 29, perhaps Luiz is ready to develop his style of play into a more reserved, well-positioned defender, but personally I’m not so sure. Conte has a big job on his hands to make £38million appear good value for Luiz.