Arsenal are preparing a late transfer for Douglas Luiz, per multiple sources. The Gunners are prepared to bid up to £25m for the 24-year old Brazilian midfielder. Luiz is reportedly pushing for a move away from Aston Villa, has less than a year remaining on his contract, and briefly overlapped with Mikel Arteta at Manchester City. Villa claim Luiz is not for sale, but that’s likely just a negotiating tactic.
I don’t think Arsenal look to make this move if not for the injuries to Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny in the center of the park. Mikel Arteta and Edu were comfortable with the pair as the deeper-lying midfielders at the club. But with Partey set to be out “a while” and Elneny’s injury a serious one, Arsenal needed midfielder reinforcements. Luiz would provide that without deviating from the squad-building plan.
Is Douglas Luiz as good as Thomas Partey? No. But he’s solid cover with plenty of Premier League experience and the space to grow into the Arsenal squad. Luiz’ biggest similarity to Partey and what makes him a solid acquisition is his defensive / disruptive ability. He breaks up play and gets the ball back. He doesn’t make as many tackles as Partey. He does it with interceptions. Both players are in the 71st percentile, respectively, per fbref.
My biggest concern is his press-resistance — he’s shown a tendency to give the ball away under pressure. I think that’s due, at least in part, to his teammates at Villa and Steven Gerrard’s tactics as it is a particular failing of Luiz. I don’t think it’s a fatal flaw by any stretch, but it’s something to keep an eye on should he move to North London.
Overall, I think it’s a solid, necessary move for Arsenal. Signing Luiz won’t have me jumping for joy or brimming with excitement, but it would strengthen the squad and ensure that injuries / position shifts aren’t what undermine the early potential Arsenal have shown this season. I’m not convinced that Luiz will become a star at the Emirates, but he’ll be more than a squad player, too. And he’s got the tools to potentially break out on a better team surrounded by top quality players.