Antonio Conte sent out a “strong message” to the rest of his first-team players after Chelsea’s two league wins without current outcast David Luiz in the team.
That is the verdict of Blues legend Frank Lampard, who wrote in his London Evening Standard column that the Italian has been vindicated in dropping the defender with six points from six against Manchester United and West Brom.
Luiz is said to have fallen out with Conte during a training session ahead of the crunch clash with the Red Devils over the manager’s tactics.
The Brazil international has been warned by Conte that he faces a mammoth fight to regain his starting berth off the impressive Andreas Christensen, and Lampard believes Conte’s stance has shown his senior stars who is boss at Stamford Bridge.
He wrote: “Conte is a strong manager and is certainly showing everyone who’s in charge. This is football. The manager has stamped his authority and it’s his right to do so.
“If there is conflict in the dressing room, it is not the worst thing in the world. Yet it is important that it does not spread as a negative because then it becomes a problem. The manager obviously thinks it’s the right thing to do in this case.
I’m probably the only Chelsea fan enjoying David Luiz sitting out games for being rude. You don’t try to infuse disunity in the dressing room because you think you’ve copped some experience. Are you mad?
— Cross˚ (@Elcrucifixio) 19 November 2017
“Luiz’s level hasn’t dropped dramatically, but Conte has decided to send a message and the team have won both fixtures without him.
“The two victories does back up his decision in the short term. Andreas Christensen has come in and done very well so we have to give him and Conte credit.”
Lampard did go on to agree with Conte that the centre-back needed to work hard to force his way back into the reckoning and thinks that Luiz still has a future in west London.
David Luiz should only be used as a midfielder from now on. Times change. Christensen deserves that central back 3 role in the league at least.
— M (@ChelseaGunman) 20 November 2017
He added: “The onus is now on David to train hard and get back in the team. He has been fantastic since he’s been back at the club and played a major part in them winning the title.
“He appears to be keeping his head down – we haven’t heard or seen him in the press talking about it – and seems to be training hard. This is the way it has to be. Luiz could get back in against Qarabag or when another opening comes.
“I still think he has a big future at the club. He is a massive character in the dressing room and a top quality player.”