David Luiz is “very lucky” to have given another year at Arsenal, says Martin Keown, with the decision to extend the Brazilian’s deal considered to have put Mikel Arteta under unnecessary pressure.
The Gunners have opted to trigger a clause with a 33-year-old defender that will see him remain in north London for another 12 months.
Many had expected those at Emirates Stadium to snub the option of an extended stay for Luiz, with the South American having struggled for consistency across an error-strewn campaign in 2019-20.
The former Chelsea star is, however, a proven performer at the highest level and the kind of character who can have a positive impact on those around him.
Keown, though, is of the opinion that a sizeable gamble has been taken by Arteta in keeping Luiz around, with the inexperienced Arsenal boss still needing to plug defensive leaks and prove that he can be the man to turn fortunes around at a club that continues to find itself stuck in reverse.
“What I’m concerned about now is the stock of the manager,” former Gunners centre-back Keown told talkSPORT.
“I think there’s enough favour there for Arteta as a young manager to maybe get away with this one.
“Nonetheless, I think he should be making the right decisions for the football club and I don’t believe David Luiz is the right man to be in that dressing room.
“Frank Lampard took a different view when he took over at Chelsea; he wanted David Luiz out of his dressing room, for whatever reason, whether that was performance or character, I’m not sure, but he made that clear decision.”
Keown continued: “Now, I think David Luiz is very lucky to be there back at Arsenal for another year.
“But then I worry about the manager, because you only get so long in this job and you’ve got to make the right decisions, and the early decisions have to be right.
“That is a huge problem, that position; David Luiz has given the most penalties away this season, four, he’s not mobile enough, he goes to ground too early…
“As former players we don’t enjoy ridiculing and hammering players, and he’s had a fine career, but he’s only ever done it in a back-three.
“So unless it is that Arteta is going to change to a back-three and he’s going to play in the middle, as he did at Chelsea when he won the Premier League, Arsenal are in real trouble.
“Because he’s going to be exposed, he’s going to make rash challenges, and actually in possession he’s been really disappointing. He’s often going back to the goalkeeper and inviting pressure from the opposition.
“So this is massive for Arteta now. He’s got to go looking for central defenders, there’s injuries in that position, David Luiz isn’t the answer and he’s getting another year’s contract!”