When Chelsea opted to re-sign David Luiz in the summer on transfer deadline day, it evoked a mixed reaction from the footballing community.
The Brazil international’s ability has never been in doubt, but his erratic and unpredictable nature has always meant the defender is prone to the odd high-profile error.
However, with the Blues sitting on top of the Premier League currently and boasting an excellent recent defensive record, it is time to laud Luiz for his performance upon returning to Stamford Bridge.
Antonio Conte’s decision to switch to a three-man defence has paid major dividends and the former Paris Saint-Germain centre-half has played a crucial role in its success.
As the middle-man of the trident, Luiz effectively has been operating as a deep-lying playmaker, starting Chelsea attacks with his vision and range of passing.
His organisational abilities when the game is played in front of him have been impressive in recent weeks and the South American has acted as something of an unlikely leader in the absence of John Terry.
With the support of Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta to help nullify any lapses in concentration or coughing up of possession, Luiz has looked in his element and consistently been solid as Chelsea have moved up the Premier League table.
So often a player whose highlights reel would be comprised of calamitous errors, his recent performances have been awash with decisive tackles, interceptions and accurate distribution.
Whether the new-look Luiz is here to stay could well be put to the test this weekend and the one after it.
Chelsea face top-four rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City in consecutive weeks, with these opponents two of the Premier League’s best proponents of a high-pressing game.
This will give Luiz less time on the ball and put him under more pressure, with the Brazilian’s former error-prone self an ideal victim of the high-octane style Mauricio Pochettino and Pep Guardiola demand of their players.
Should the seemingly more-mature Chelsea defender get through these fixtures unscathed and with the same level of performance as in recent weeks, Luiz could well have emerged as a somewhat unlikely long-term replacement for the ageing Terry in Conte’s revolution in West London.