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Arsenal could sign “remarkable” £52m target who’s similar to Rodri

And just like that, Arsenal are back at the forefront of the Premier League pack, with Mikel Arteta‘s squad quietly firing themselves into first-rate form and capitalising on rivals’ dropped points at the weekend.

It’s been an interesting one, with Arsenal’s defensive dominance this season a discernible upgrade from last term, but coming at the cost of the same captivating level of panache in an attacking sense.

13 matches into the 2023/24 campaign, the Gunners are indeed one point clear at the top of the table, boasting the best defensive record in the division and tasting defeat just once, to Newcastle United at St. James’ Park.

Only Manchester City have conceded fewer shots from open play (72) than Arsenal (91), while no team has made fewer saves in the Premier League than the Emirates Stadium side (18).


This all blends together to emphasise a growth in maturity, and a newfound cohesion across the park that bespeaks the title-winning credentials that this remarkable set of players possess.

Arteta is a man of perfection, however, and he will be fervently anticipating the January transfer window, where shrewd investment could result in a more comfortable distance being established from the club’s heel-snapping rivals.

Arsenal’s top transfer target

Arsenal will be eager to bolster, and at the top of the transfer wishlist is Aston Villa’s midfield general Douglas Luiz, with transfer guru Fabrizio Romano revealing that he is Arteta’s “top target”, with rumours surrounding Ruben Neves believed to be wide of the mark.

However, the Italian journalist has since taken to Twitter to delineate Villan manager Unai Emery’s absolute desire to rebuff any advances for the 25-year-old.

The fast-rising Premier League side consider Luiz the lynchpin in the middle, with his emphatic exploits this season earning him a transfer valuation of £52m, according to CIES Football Observatory.

While the north London side are desperate to land the Brazilian ace, Football Insider claim that Manchester City are interested in re-signing the starlet they let go for £15m in 2019.

Douglas Luiz’s style of play

While Manchester City decided that there wasn’t a place in the squad for Luiz as he grew into his skin – largely due to the £62.5m acquisition of Rodri from Atletico Madrid – Villa recognised that he could be a star in the making.


Having now chalked up 171 appearances for the Villa Park team, scoring 18 goals and providing 17 assists, Luiz has earned the position of prominence from which he now resides, with the likes of Arsenal and his former employer swooning over his skill set.

As per FBref, Luiz ranks among the top 9% of midfielders across Europe’s top five leagues over the past year for goals, the top 16% for assists and the top 19% for shot-creating actions per 90, punctuating the creative ability that has led The Athletic’s Jacob Tanswell toward dubbing him “the complete player.”


The ten-cap international, at his heart, is an industrious centre-midfielder, but perhaps his expansive performances showcase his breaking free of the obsolete labels attributed to traditional positions.

Instead, his Manchester City roots and allowance to explore the various facets of his ability at Villa has sculpted him into a truly special talent, and he has come alive since the summer.

Douglas Luiz’s season in numbers

Luiz has really blossomed into his own as Aston Villa have made progress under Emery’s wing; not just a cog in the machine, the former Citizen is the key mechanism holding it all together, clever and cunning, tenacious and resourceful in possession.

Across 13 Premier League matches, he has scored five goals and supplied two assists from central midfield, producing a delightful delivery from deep for Pau Torres to latch onto before half-time against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, restoring parity before turning the match on its head after the break to advance to top four.

The £75k-per-week star has truly been among the finest all-encompassing midfielders in Europe this season, with Sofascore highlighting his pass success rate of 89% in the Premier League, averaging 1.3 key passes, 2.3 tackles and 6.1 ball recoveries per game, also succeeding with 64% of his dribbles and winning 59% of his duels.

This, frankly, is absurd for a player of his position; Declan Rice, for example, has completed 91% of his passes, made 0.8 key passes, 1.8 tackles and 4.9 recoveries each match and triumphed in 55% of his dribbles and 49% of his duels.


Aston Villa could land “special” Arsenal player in Douglas Luiz exchange

Emery has coached the player in question before…

Rice completed a £105m transfer to Arteta’s squad from West Ham United in the summer after catalysing his former outfit’s endeavours over the past few years, crescendoing with victory in the Conference League last term.

He’s been hailed as a “Rolls-Royce” by journalist Joshua Mbu in the past and he’s certainly living up to that gleaming mantle now, and with Luiz beside him in the engine room, the Gunners could soar to new heights.

How Douglas Luiz compares to Rodri

Heralded for his “remarkable” creative ability by Tanswell this term, the 5 foot 10 machine has been loosely linked to Rodri by FBref player comparison model, with his erstwhile affiliation with the Etihad Stadium perhaps providing him with similar core qualities.

 Manchester City's Rodri celebrates scoring their second goal with Bernardo Silva and Erling Braut Haaland

Rodri is widely regarded as the best No. 6 in the world right now, with journalist Raphael Honigstein claiming that he can “do everything”, and so too is Luiz proving to be excellent across multiple dimensions of the midfield game.

The £220k-per-week Spaniard ranks among the top 10% of midfielders across Europe’s top five leagues over the past year for goals, the top 15% for shot-creating actions, the top 1% for pass completion and passes attempted, the top 5% for progressive passes and the top 12% for progressive carries per 90.

In the Premier League, the 27-year-old has plundered three goals and two assists from 11 games, completing 94% of his passes, averaged 1.2 key passes, 2.0 tackles and 7.0 recoveries per fixture and succeeded with 75% of his attempted dribbles.

Douglas Luiz: PL Stats vs AVFC Squad 23/24



Squad ranking







Prog. carries



Prog. passes



Passes comp.



Pass success



Shot-creating actions









*Sourced via FBref

Very much the jack-of-all-trades; and master of all. While he is more refined and effective than Luiz at present, there is a blueprint from which the Brazilian star can follow, especially as he is highly ranked when compared to his teammates this season.

Influential across a melange of roles, Arsenal have to make the swoop in January, and while he might be expensive, the Aston Villa machine would be worth every penny and could rival Rodri for the Gunners over the coming period, perhaps even proving to be the difference-maker in the search for the elusive Premier League trophy.

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