By Anthony Onifade

20th Jul, 2023 | 5:10pm

Unai Emery must reassure Douglas Luiz of his importance to Aston Villa as worrying news emerges

Aston Villa midfielder Douglas Luiz enjoyed a sensational 2022/23 campaign under Unai Emery and such performances have brought worrying glances from Premier League rivals.

The Daily Mail reported on Thursday (20 July) that North London outfit Tottenham are keen on signing the Brazilian maestro as a potential replacement for Pierre Emile-Hojbjerg who is expected to depart this summer, with Atletico Madrid on the prowl.

The Mail has claimed that talks between Spurs and Diego Simeone’s side are slow but have progressed in recent days regarding the fee and that a deal for either Luiz or Gallagher could occur should Hojbjerg leave.

The Villans are certainly on the rise at the moment which has been further highlighted by the impressive transfer business securing deals for Youri Tielemans from Leicester City and Pau Torres from Emery’s former side Villarreal.

And while there could be more ambitious moves occurring this summer, it is absolutely crucial the Spaniard keeps much of his key components together as they embark on a whole new territory next season, now playing have to juggle European football with their domestic ambitions.

And one of those key components has been Luiz who enjoyed a superb campaign last year, swiftly emerging as arguably the best central midfielder outside the top six Premier League sides.

And that stats proved as much, with the former Manchester City midfielder recording the best goal contributions record of his career in the Premier League with six goals and six assists, which has seen him draw several praises from the likes of BBC pundit Ian Wright who labelled him “Fantastic” and ex-Aston Villa forward Gabby Agbonlahor who called him “outstanding”.

It comes in stark contrast to his nine-goal involvements (three goals, six assists) in 77 matches under Dean Smith, and four-goal involvements (three goals, one assist) in 36 matches under Gerrard highlighting how much Emery has transformed and progressed his game in an Aston Villa shirt.

The Brazilian was amongst the best Villa players last season ranking second throughout the team for assists (6), first for key passes per game (1.2), second for passing success rate out of any Villa player to start more than 10 times in the Premier League, third for tackles per game also registered the second-most interceptions in the Villa squad [WhoScored].

Luiz earned attention from Arsenal last summer [The Guardian], with manager Mikel Arteta noting his frustration after failing to sign him on deadline day [ESPN], and with the likes of Liverpool desperately looking for a midfielder too, fans won’t be surprised to see Luiz appear on their wishlist too.

However, the rapid interest in the Brazilian is of no surprise given his strong showings in recent months, but Villa boss Emery faces a challenge to keep him at the club beyond the summer window, because the way Tottenham are progressing this summer, under new management and possessing the financial means to increase Luiz’ wages, Villa may have a serious fight on their hands persuading Luiz to stay.

With European football on the horizon, that may well have its pull on the midfielder, but it is hugely important that Emery reminds and reassures the Brazilian of his vital importance to the Aston Villa cause and even hand him a leadership role within the team if he hasn’t done so already.

Villa were adamant about keeping Luiz when Arsenal came sniffing and Emery will be just as keen to keep him this window if Spurs persist with their interest this summer. Should that happen, the Spaniard should know what to do when it comes to persuading his star players to remain at the club.

In other Aston Villa news, podcaster Ty Bracey has lowered his expectations for the club’s European push next season for one key reason.