5 defenders who should consider a move into midfield
The blurring of lines when it comes to positional play in football is nothing new, but today’s players are perhaps more versatile than any generation before them, simply due to the massive variety in roles that you see on the pitch these days. Sweeper-keeper, holding midfielder, box-to-box man, and so on.
One thing we don’t often see though is defenders who can develop into midfielders. Eric Dier has been known to move into central defence from his usual role as a holding midfielder, but the list of players who do the opposite isn’t that exhaustive.
There can be no doubt, however, that some defenders could well end up making better midfielders. Here are 5 players that I personally feel could make the switch:
#5 David Luiz (Chelsea)
The return of the afro-haired Brazilian defender to Chelsea last season was quite a surprise given the feeling was that the Blues had done a great deal in selling him to Paris Saint-Germain for £50 million.
But he was a revelation in 2016/17 – probably Chelsea’s best defender – as the work done with the player by Antonio Conte thoroughly erased any nasty memories of Luiz’s cartoonish performances for Brazil in the 2014 World Cup, as well as the comparison to a “PlayStation footballer” made by Gary Neville.
The problem with Luiz as a defender is despite all of his improvements, he still appears to lack concentration and composure at times, and he’s still all too willing to take crazy risks, risks that cause him to be found out of position too often.
His strengths, however, are tremendous – he’s physically strong, very comfortable on the ball and his range of passing and vision are excellent. And he takes a mean free-kick, too – as Colombia found out in the World Cup quarter-finals three years ago.
Which is why it could be smart for Luiz to try to convert himself into a midfielder – preferably a holding man – on a full-time basis. His concentration levels wouldn’t be quite so important from that position, and his need to take risks and come charging forward would actually benefit his team rather than leave them open to harm.
He could still use his range of passing to full effect, and he’d be more likely to find himself with shooting opportunities too.
Antonio Conte has tried it before with varied results – it worked in Chelsea’s win over Spurs but failed in their loss to Roma – but it’s a move he ought to consider again – with more experience, Luiz could thrive in the role.