Chelsea defender David Luiz believes the reason that Antonio Conte dropped him from the match day squad for Sunday’s Premier League fixture against Manchester United is linked to his friendship with former Blues striker Diego Costa, according to reports in The Times.
On several occasions last season the Brazilian defender attempted to act as a peacemaker to resolve the issues between his team-mate and coach.
Costa, who has now left Chelsea to re-join Atletico Madrid, had a turbulent relationship with Italian coach Conte and Luiz feels that he is now being punished for his close friendship with the volatile frontman.
The 30-year-old defender was amongst a group of senior players, including captain Gary Cahill, Cesc Fabregas and Eden Hazard, who were read the riot act by their manager at a team meeting after last week’s embarrassing 3-0 defeat to Roma in the Champions League.
Luiz is said to have questioned Conte’s tactics and the Italian’s response was to make the talented defender a ball boy during an 11 v 11 training game at Chelsea’s Cobham training ground on Friday.
The Brazil international was re-signed by Chelsea in the summer of 2016 and played a vital role in the club’s title triumph last season, with owner Roman Abramovich said to have been instrumental in the player’s return.
The Russian oligarch is said to be a massive fan of Luiz so Conte’s decision to make an example of the defender is just further evidence that the Italian coach is determined to make the decisions that he feels are best for the team, regardless of who he upsets.
Whatever the exact reasons behind the call to drop the player, it was only a few weeks ago when Conte described the Brazilian as his best defender, so something has gone seriously wrong between the pair in the meantime and it will be interesting to see how the situation plays out over the course of the next few games.
Chelsea were also rocked yesterday by the news that long-term Techincal Director Micheal Emaleno has quit the club.
As is so often is the case with the Stamford Bridge club it seems that events off the pitch are overshadowing what was an excellent performance and win over their arch-rivals Manchester United on Sunday.
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