By Anthony Onifade

8th Aug, 2023 | 8:10am

Douglas Luiz should be handed key leadership role at Aston Villa to fend off interest

Douglas Luiz proved a huge factor in the Aston Villa transformation under Unai Emery and his performances and maturity shown has led to several glances from the Premier League’s elite but the Villans could persuade him to stay by handing him an honourable incentive.

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.

Not only Spurs but Arsenal have been linked with a move for the Brazilian also [The Sun, 20 July] with reports suggesting they were set to hijack their fierce rivals’ move for the former Manchester City maestro.

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 having to juggle European football with their domestic ambitions.

And one of those key components was Luiz who enjoyed a superb campaign last year, swiftly emerging as arguably the best central midfielder outside the top six Premier League sides, hence the interest from two of the English top-flight’s best 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 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].

In fact, his underlying stats amongst Europe’s midfielders in Europe’s top five leagues certainly make for promising reading and his abilities and standing amongst some of the best on the continent may well be boosted in the upcoming campaign.

As per FBRef, Luiz excels in his work on and off the ball, ranking in the 80th percentile for goal-creating actions and 98th percentile for goal-creating actions from defensive actions highlighting how influential he is in creating goalscoring opportunities, despite being a deep-lying midfielder.

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.

As stated previously, the rapid interest in the Brazilian is of no surprise given his strong showings in recent months, and 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.

The Brazilian’s importance to Aston Villa should not be understated and it’s why the West Midlands outfit must fend off interest and persuade him to commit his long-term future at the club by giving him a strong and key leadership role for the upcoming campaign.

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.

Emery may well have a number of players well-positioned to lead the side in the near future in case of a crucial absence or departure, and Luiz must surely now be at the top of that leadership candidacy list.

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