Luiz to wait for 2nd blues debut

David Luiz has earned plenty of criticism for his frequent lapses in concentration while defending, yet remains a fan favourite among Chelsea supporters as he returns to their fold after a deadline-day transfer from previous club Paris Saint Germain.
David Luiz has earned plenty of criticism for his frequent lapses in concentration while defending, yet remains a fan favourite among Chelsea supporters as he returns to their fold after a deadline-day transfer from previous club Paris Saint Germain.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Little time to train together, so little chance of returning defender facing Swansea today

LONDON • New Chelsea signings David Luiz and Marcos Alonso are not ready for a first-team place in today's English Premier League clash with Swansea City, manager Antonio Conte said on Friday.

Luiz, 29, left Chelsea for Paris Saint-Germain in 2014, but re-signed with the London club on transfer deadline day after a trophy-filled spell with the French champions.

Spanish left-back Alonso joined from Fiorentina last month.

"The new players need a bit of time to work with a new method, a new philosophy, a new idea of football and it's important to give them a bit of time," Conte told reporters.

"For this reason, their chance of playing from the start is not high."

The former Italy and Juventus coach opted for a 3-5-2 line-up for his country at Euro 2016 but said he could also use three defenders after Luiz's arrival.

"It can be an opportunity, a solution," he said.

"It can happen in the future. This squad can play with 3-4-3, not 3-5-2 like the Italy national team or Juventus, because of the characteristics of the players."

Luiz's return baffled pundits, but many Chelsea supporters were pleased to see the return of a player who helped the club to Champions League and Europa League success before moving to PSG for £50 million (S$90.1 million).

The defender's reputation for making mistakes, however, has raised questions about the move to bring him back, even at a cut-price £32 million.

Conte, though, has no concerns.

"It's important to have in a squad players with good personality, great personality," said Conte.

"It's important, this. Also, I want that great personality transposed on to the pitch. I'm very happy when we have great players with personality.

"It's good. This changing room is a good changing room (atmosphere) at Chelsea."

Another new signing who has already made an impression at Stamford Bridge, though, is N'Golo Kante. The French midfielder is "so good that he is even better than Chelsea legend Claude Makelele", according to team-mate Nemanja Matic.

The Serbian defensive midfielder has drawn comparisons with Makelele, who excelled in the holding midfield role during Chelsea's back-to-back Premier League title triumphs in 2005 and 2006.

But Matic told Sky Sports: "Many people say that he is the new Makelele, but I don't think so.

"Makelele was a great player and we all respect him, me especially because I know that position and how it is difficult to play.

"But I think that N'Golo is better than him. He is doing his defensive job very well and with the ball he has some extra quality."

The visit of Chelsea marks the start of a daunting run for Welsh club Swansea that includes games against Southampton, Manchester City and Liverpool.

Swansea's opening-day victory over Burnley has been followed by losses to Hull and Leicester, and left-back Neil Taylor acknowledged the significance of the coming run of fixtures.

"As a squad now we need to be ready for these next five to six games," said the Wales international. "It's a testing run against top teams, not just top teams but teams that are playing very well at the moment.

"We have to be on top form, but at the Liberty (Stadium) we feel we can beat anybody on our day."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 11, 2016, with the headline 'Luiz to wait for 2nd blues debut'. Print Edition | Subscribe