The ex-England defender once famously suggested the Brazilian played like he was being controlled by a 10-year-old but has been much more impressed since his return to Chelsea.
Gary Neville once infamously described David Luiz as defending like he was being controlled by a 10-year-old on a PlayStation – but now believes he fits “perfectly” into Antonio Conte’s 3-4-3 system at Chelsea.
The Brazilian returned to Stamford Bridge in a surprise deadline-day deal from Paris Saint-Germain two years after leaving west London for the French capital.
After a mixed start to the 2016-17 campaign, Luiz has become a key cog for Conte since the Italian switched to a three-man defence and the Blues have subsequently won five games in a row without conceding a goal.
“The three at the back suits David Luiz perfectly,” Neville told the Metro. “He doesn’t suit playing in a back four. But I think playing in a three, particularly with N’Golo Kante and Nemanja Matic playing in front of him, he seems to be making good decisions.
“He seems to be selecting when to play out from the back and when to get rid of it. He seems to be more mature.
“I think, also, Conte is a very good, well-drilled defensive coach. So ultimately at the moment I think it looks very good.
“I think having Kante and Matic in front of him and having the two players either side is giving him a good platform to show his best.”
Luiz has taken over from long-serving captain John Terry as the leader of the Chelsea defence, but Neville does not think the former England international should be concerned by that at this stage of his career.
“At John Terry’s age he can relax about not being in the team,” he added. “He’s climbed the mountain of football, really, with what he’s done. He can now provide good support to that team.
“I don’t think, to be fair, he needs to play every single week. I don’t think it’s the whole, ‘oh John Terry’s been left out’ anymore, I think now because of his age and the fact he got injured I think people accept it’s the right thing to do and it’s not the big shock that it may have once been – although John will be determined to get back in.”