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Antonio Conte is no fool, the criticism of David Luiz has been wildly disproportionate

Can a supposedly poor player really get away with winning 16 trophies?

David Luiz rejoined Chelsea from Paris St Germain during the week.
David Luiz rejoined Chelsea from Paris St Germain during the week.
Image: Adam Davy

Updated at 10.28

DURING THE WEEK, Irish striker Robbie Keane was given a fitting and well-deserved send off at the Aviva Stadium, as he crowned his final international appearance with his 68th goal for his country.

Keane has had a career that few in the history of Irish football could match, and so it was only appropriate that he was rewarded with a hero’s goodbye.

The Tallaght native’s bow completely overshadowed the game itself, which otherwise wouldn’t have lasted long in the memory on account of how dire and uncompetitive Ireland’s hapless opponents unsurprisingly turned out to be.

But imagine if Keane, in addition to his Ireland heroics, had achieved a little more at club level. Granted, he did extremely well to become the 13th-most successful goalscorer in the history of the Premier League.

Imagine if during his peak in English football, Keane had won more than just one League Cup. Imagine if instead of the one trophy, he had won 16, including a Champions League, a Europa League and three league titles. Imagine if he had featured in the Fifa World XI, helped guide his country to the World Cup semi-finals and been bought by one of the biggest clubs in Europe for over €60 million. Imagine how highly thought of Keane would have been, in the Irish public’s eyes, had he done all of this.

If you haven’t guessed yet, the achievements listed above belong to David Luiz’s CV.

At the same time that Keane was being celebrated on Wednesday, Luiz was being mocked and ridiculed by football fans and some critics owing to his Chelsea surprise return.

The comparison above is not necessarily to suggest that Luiz is a better player than Keane, but to point out how hard it is for even gifted players such as the Irish striker to win big trophies and also to underline that Chelsea’s new signing has been seriously underappreciated by some for a long time now.

Fans who engage in social media scorn and portray Luiz as a useless imposter are entitled to their view, but there is a considerable degree of evidence to the contrary.

Can a supposedly poor player really get away with winning 16 trophies? Is he so fortunate that he keeps finding himself in teams that are able to compensate for his alleged lack of ability?

Are Carlo Ancelotti, Laurent Blanc and Antonio Conte so poor at judging players that they sanctioned big-money moves for an inept defender? Have the Londoners been duped into buying the Brazilian international back? Is Luiz a “liability and a worse player than when he left Chelsea,” as French journalist Julien Lauren claimed during the week?

Granted, Luiz is not perfect. He was particularly poor in Brazil’s infamous  7-1 World Cup loss to Germany, and he has made further high-profile errors in other big matches too.

On the other hand, he was also good enough to be Benfica’s Player of the Year in 2009-10, helping guide the Portuguese side to their first league title in five years. He excelled in the 2012 Champions League final, as Chelsea stunned Bayern Munich with a far from vintage team that also included Ryan Bertrand, Salomon Kalou and John Obi Mikel.

In two seasons at PSG, Luiz has won two league titles and been named in the Ligue 1 Team of the Year in both campaigns, so he is hardly leaving France after an unsuccessful period.

He has his flaws and there are better centre-backs in world football, but to portray a serial winner such as Luiz as a sort of joke figure, as many have in recent days, is not just wrong, it’s wilfully ignorant.

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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