Arsenal’s decision to extend David Luiz’s contract is understandable, says Paul Merson, as the experienced Brazilian defender “never goes hiding” after making mistakes and remains a “proper player”.
Eyebrows were raised when the Gunners revealed that they had taken up a 12-month option on the enigmatic South American centre-half.
For many, Luiz is too error-prone to plug defensive leaks in north London, while at 33 years of age he is also no long-term option.
He will, however, be sticking around at Emirates Stadium after Mikel Arteta decided to keep the larger-than-life character on his books.
Merson believes the right decision has been made with the former Chelsea star, who is a Premier League and Champions League title winner, with the positives he brings to the fold helping to counter the obvious negatives.
“On his day, he is a proper player and there's no grey areas, he's black or white,” former Gunners star Merson told Sky Sports.
“You've seen it at Chelsea where he's absolutely outstanding and we've seen him at Arsenal where he's been atrocious. But for me, on his day, I think he's top drawer.
“If he can help the centre-halves coming through and the youngsters there with his experience, because he's won everything in the game, I don't think it's a bad year.
“I hear people saying 'oh get rid of him, he makes mistakes' - of course he makes mistakes, but he might be able to help other players while he's there.
“The one thing I like about him is that he never goes hiding, he always keeps getting on the ball, he's always in the thick of it and sometimes, that's probably why he makes too many mistakes. But I can understand where Mikel Arteta is coming from.”
Luiz’s only outing since the Premier League restart saw him endure a nightmare evening at Manchester City.
After being introduced off the bench, he proceeded to tee up Raheem Sterling for the opening goal of the game before conceding a penalty and being sent off.
Arsenal came unstuck in that outing, and in their next against Brighton, but did return to winning ways last time out against Southampton and will be hoping to carry that momentum through an FA Cup quarter-final clash with Sheffield United on Sunday.
That competition represents their best chance of ending the 2019-20 campaign on a high, with top-four dreams having been dashed for another year as they sit 11 points off the pace.