Harry Redknapp is the latest figure from the world of football to question the shock return of David Luiz to Chelsea on the last day of the summer transfer window. However, the former QPR and Spurs boss believes Luiz could be a good fit for Antonio Conte's style, should the Italian boss switch to the 3-5-2 formation he used at Juventus and with the Italian national side.
Chelsea completed the return of the 29-year-old centre-back from Paris Saint-Germain on deadline day after being repeatedly knocked back in attempts to sign the likes of Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly and AC Milan's Alessio Romagnoli. Luiz was plainly not top of the shopping list, and many have questioned how he will fit into Conte's plans. He left Chelsea two years ago for £50m, following concerns about his frequent lapses in concentration.
Redknapp, in his weekly column for Evening Standard, admits those errors continued during the player's Ligue 1 days, but adding: "David Luiz says he is a better defender now than when he left Chelsea but he has to prove that is the case. I saw him make some horrendous mistakes during his time at PSG and he is still prone to a rash tackle, diving in from bad positions and exposing his team-mates."
"There is no doubt he is a good footballer but PSG weren't exactly desperate to keep him, were they? You'd think they would have wanted their money back at least. He isn't a defender in the mould Antonio Conte usually likes and with John Terry injured for Liverpool's visit tomorrow, all eyes will be on him to hit the ground running in his second spell at the club."
Redknapp believes that Luiz's return could make more sense if Conte's plan is to switch to the 3-5-2 formation in the short term.
"He is talking about converting from 4-2-3-1 to a 3-4-3 or 3-5-2 shape at some point during the season — and Luiz can fit into that system well. He has the pace to get out to the full-back position as the right-sided centre-back and can still play out from the back as he likes to do as long as the other two sit in alongside him, " Redknapp added.
"There is a big difference in the two systems because suddenly you are relying on all your width coming from the full-backs. If you get good possession of the ball, you can overrun teams playing that way, but at the same time it could be a problem going up against teams with top-class attacking full-backs. Nathaniel Clyne would be a threat to them if they go with three at the back tomorrow."
The Chelsea boss has already confirmed that the Brazilian is set to make his re-debut in visit of Liverpool on Friday night. However, it looks uncertain that he will play with three at the back as John Terry will miss the game due to injury.
Redknapp suggests that Branislav Ivanovic could be a good partner for Luiz and Gary Cahill in future – but added that the game against Liverpool may come too to test a new formation.
"Cesar Azpilicueta might not be suited to playing on the left because as a right-footer he isn't naturally going to give you quality from wide positions — he'll always prefer to come inside on his favoured foot. Marcos Alonso is a more natural fit there. Then it is a question of who he plays in the middle — does Branislav Ivanovic come in as one of the three centre-halves?" the former manager said.
"Liverpool are such a threat in these big games away from home because of their pace on the counter attack. Their back four still needs work — it is not a defence that can be the foundation of a title challenge — but they can be devastating on the break and it would be a risk to switch systems in such a big game."