Paul Merson has warned David Luiz that he is “getting lazy” and called on the Chelsea defender to step his game up.
The Brazilian defender earned plenty of praise last season as he ended up being one of Chelsea’s top performers as the Blues won the Premier League title in Antonio Conte’s first campaign in charge at Stamford Bridge.
Luiz secured a return to the west London club last summer and proved his doubters wrong as he produced a string of strong and consistent performances to help the Blues lift the trophy in May.
However, Merson feels that the defender has been letting his standards slip in recent weeks, and that his sending off against Arsenal and his conceding of a penalty against Atletico Madrid last week proves it.
Writing in his column for the Daily Star, Merson said: “David Luiz is getting a bit lazy and he reminds me of David James at the moment.
“James was an unbelievable goalkeeper but he was that good it became too easy for him and he’d lose concentration, earning him the nickname Calamity James.
“It’s the same with Luiz. In the last couple of weeks Chelsea have been very, very good.
“I haven’t seen a team do what Chelsea did to Atletico Madrid this week for ages. They ripped them apart in their own backyard.
“But it was so easy Luiz switched off and let them back in the game by giving away a penalty. It was his second big mistake in a week.
“It goes back farther, because I thought Aaron Ramsey’s winner in the FA Cup final was his fault, too. He’s just jogging back.
“But I don’t think Chelsea should drop him. I think he needs to play through it. I’m sure Conte will have a word with him.
“But he needs to be careful because he had a reputation in his first spell at Stamford Bridge for always giving you a chance in a game and he won’t want it back.”
Chelsea are aiming to defend their Premier League title this season after their impressive triumph under Conte last term.
The west London side return to Premier League action after the international break when they take on Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
The Blues have kicked off their Champions League campaign in style with back to back wins over Qarabag and Atletico Madrid.
Virgil Van Dijk: I wouldn’t be surprised if Southampton man joins Chelsea – journalist
That’s the verdict of The Guardian’s Sachin Nakrani, who jokingly suggested on Twitter that Liverpool should only offer £40m for the Southampton man.
Van Dijk’s future has been the subject of plenty of speculation throughout 2017 with a cluster of big clubs keen on signing him.
A move to Liverpool appeared to be a formality until they were accused of tapping the Holland international up in June.
Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal have all been credited with interest in Van Dijk, who’s just returned to first-team action, as well.
Nakrani revealed he reckons Stamford Bridge may well be Van Dijk’s destination following the 26-year-old’s poor performance against Stoke.
On Twitter, Nakrani wrote: “Van Dijk a shambles from start to finish for that Stoke penalty. Poor positioning, odd body shape & lazy challenge. £40m – final offer.”
A fan responded: “Final offer rejected then… [Nakrani replied: “Fair dues”.]
“I’d put today down to it being his first senior game for nine months. Still reckon he’ll go for £60m+, but to Chelsea.”
And Nakrani said: “Wouldn’t be surprised.”
Whether Van Dijk is still determined to quit Southampton remains to be seen.
Saints are likely to demand a world-record defender fee before they’ll part with him though.