Towards the end of his first stint at Chelsea, center back David Luiz had suddenly developed into an absolute force in central midfield. When partnered with Nemanja Matic, the man who once served as makeweight in the deal that brought the center back to Stamford Bridge in the first place, the pair routinely dominated the opponent into submission (see: Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal and others). It wasn't a magic wand, especially when he was partnered with Ramires or Frank Lampard, but David Luiz was revealed to be a modern day combination of a libero and a box-to-box midfielder.
While this experiment ended mostly on a sour note — elimination from the Champions League semifinals by Atlético Madrid — and David Luiz was soon after sold to PSG, upon his return last week, we were reminded of this added versatility in his game, which was first introduced by Rafa Benitez actually. His successor was initially far less keen on the idea.
"Am I going to change the style of play? More defensive players? No. Am I going to play David Luiz in front of the central defenders? No."
-Jose Mourinho, 2013
Three weeks later, Mourinho did just that, changing both the style and David Luiz's role and thus beginning the aforementioned six months of midfield wonder.
One would think PSG might have given a thought to this idea as well, but they've only done it a couple times in the last two years. Perhaps because of that, it's now Antonio Conte's turn to repeat Mourinho's famous last words.
"I think David Luiz is a centre-back, he's played a lot of games in that position. I know sometimes he's played as a central midfielder but in my mind the idea is to utilise him in the right position which, for me, is centre-back. He's played with Chelsea previously and he will bring a good personality."
-Antonio Conte; source: Chelsea FC
Given that we have both Matic and, most importantly, Kanté in the squad, a luxury that did not exist in 2013, not having to play David Luiz in midfield to add a semblance of solidity to it is understandable. (And Mikel's back, too!) The question now becomes who drops to the bench to make room for our new big-money signing.