With David Luiz not even on the bench for the 4-0 thrashing of West Bromwich Albion, this must be a question that even he’s asking himself right now,
The headlines say that the feud between Luiz and Conte all started after he had the nerve to question the manager’s tactics in the first leg of their clash with Roma but Stamford Bridge insiders claim that there was friction even before the season started. Luiz made no secret of the fact that he wasn’t keen to play for Chelsea this season and many believe it was only the direct intervention of Roman Abramovich that secured the 30-year-old Brazilian’s services.
Wherever the truth lies, one thing’s for sure and that’s that it’s going to take considerable effort and commitment for Luiz to get himself on the subs’ bench anytime soon, let alone being able to make it into the starting line-up.
The whole affair inevitably brings to mind the problems that occurred between Diego Costa and Conte last season and which culminated in that humiliating sacking by text.
Luiz considers the current position he finds himself in to be the result of a “misunderstanding” and, if this is really the case, then the Diego Costa situation isn’t comparable. You only have to look back at the series of clashes between him and Conte to see that each really did understand what they were doing and the potential consequences of their actions.
It all began before a ball had been kicked in the 2016/17 season with Diego Costa saying he wanted to leave the club for Atletico Madrid. Then, despite a strong start to the season with seven goals in as many games, came the fateful home game against Leicester when his request to be substituted was ignored.
This was further compounded by the training ground row that the pair had in the run-up to the away fixture against the same opponents that led to Diego Costa being unceremoniously dropped – the fact that Chelsea went on to win 3-0 without him weakened his position further.
Of course, it’s open to debate whether Conte has proved himself to be a little heavy handed with his dealings with both players but his uncompromising view that it’s his way or the highway is always going to involve some collateral damage. And with Chelsea quite a way behind the favourites Manchester City in the betting for this season’s title this could well be the time to impose some real discipline.
As to what he can do to shore up his defence if Luiz and Chelsea do part company in January, Conte seems to have a few options. He’s already a big fan of Andreas Christensen and has been seen ostentatiously applauding his efforts on the pitch and, by picking Ethan Ampedu as a sub ahead of Luiz in the past, he obviously also has great faith in the 17 year old.
If he’s looking to bolster the defence in January there are also at least three players who may be in the frame including Aymeric Laporte, Kostas Manolas and Virgil van Dijk.
So for Conte, and Chelsea, there are plenty of choices available – and perhaps Luiz will also be able to seize the opportunity to search for success and appreciation elsewhere.