Douglas Luiz: The Answer to Arsenal’s Midfield Conundrum?

Club: Aston Villa

Nationality: Brazil

Position: CM, DM

Preferred Foot: Right

Height: 5’10”/17cm

Age: 25

Strengths: ball-carrying, press resistance, duels, ball-striking, set-pieces, box-crashing

Development Areas: defensive ability, aggression


These Douglas Luiz links won’t go away and it’s logical why Arsenal would be interested in him. A box-crashing 8, whose press resistance with a good technical base, passing range & ball-striking ability, all with good duel-winning capacity & physicality to play in a double pivot. At Villa, Luiz plays in a double pivot on the left side with Boubacar Kamara, the defensive-minded midfielder who wins the ball. In this role, Luiz has some defensive responsibility, but he comes alive in the 2nd phase and when entering the box. An all-phase 8.


Luiz starts attacks, he’s a progressive midfielder. Whether it’s through his long passing (8.88 attempted, 5.45 completed), progressive passing (5.30), or his ball-carrying (1.73). He starts the attacks for Villa from a deeper position and is vital in their build-up play. Douglas Luiz is very smooth on the ball when carrying it, he just glides past defenders and rides challenges well due to his good upper-body strength. He has a broad frame and uses it to his advantage by shielding the ball when carrying it.


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The Villa midfielder is press-resistant and uses neat turns and flicks to beat his man or disguise passes. This helps him to beat the press and then initiate attacks and the build-up play. The swagger and flair he plays with are certainly best used higher up the pitch as an 8. As an 8, Luiz has shone more so than a 6 due to his ability in the final third and his role as a box-crashing midfielder. Luiz can score many types of goals and when arriving in the box he’s a danger, it’s the freedom he’s been given which has helped his goals skyrocket.

Luiz’s change in role reminds me a lot of what happened with Granit Xhaka at Arsenal and in many ways, he’s a more mobile version of him. The deep-lying-playmaker turned box-crashing 8. The ball-striking, aggression, defensively active, free-kicks, long passing. Very similar. The Brazilian has good ball-striking ability and especially shoots well from a distance. When at the edge of the box on either foot you can’t give him too much space for this exact reason. Luiz’s shooting also makes him a set-piece specialist. Free-kicks & penalties, he’s your man.

He has good passing ability. He’s not an elite-level passer but due to his good passing range and press resistance, he was previously mis-profiled and played as a DLP. He’s good here but I don’t think it’s here where he has the most potential, that’s the 8. That being said, although his pass accuracy is at 84%, for his short passes he has a 91.9% completion rate, he just has a lot more long passes and ‘riskier passes’ through lines. But he does have the ability to break through the lines with his passing.

Douglas Luiz is strong in duels too. A defensively active midfielder with 2.24 tackles per 90. However, he doesn’t have the best defensive ability. This is why for me, he’s not a 6. As a double pivot, he’s fine but a lone 6, no. One of Luiz’s strengths but weaknesses is his aggression. It helps him in that it makes him stronger in duels and tackles, but he’s also a bit rash and can lose his temper. This season he already has 5 yellows (4 in the Prem) and last season had 8 yellows and a red.


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The red card came in a 3-0 loss vs Fulham where he went face-to-face with & headbutted Mitrović. This not only shows a lack of channelling his aggression but also a lack of maturity, this is one of the aspects of Luiz’s game that is holding him back from being elite. One aspect of Luiz that is impressive though and is why I’m sure Arsenal is looking at him is his availability and injury history, or lack thereof. He’s a reliable player and has been able to deal with the intensity of the Premier League for years now. Partey is not as reliable.

Arsenal made a late move to sign him in the summer of 2022 with 3 offers being made and the highest at £25m. Luiz was thought to be open to the move but Villa stood their ground and said he wasn’t for sale at all. Since then, there’s been an improvement in Luiz as a player. Last season Luiz played 40 games getting 7 goals & 6 assists. This season he already has 6 goals & 4 assists in 21 games. This increase in goals is no coincidence due to his new role under Unai Emery where he’s given a bit more attacking freedom in the double pivot.

But Luiz’s improvement is also his physical & mental maturity. He’s less rushed in his decisions as he’d previously been a bit careless on the ball, hence not as technically secure as you’d want in a deep-lying playmaker. Having the mental maturity to make the right decisions on the ball is so important here.

Luiz could still be better in this area but playing in a better team and with better technical players in a more possession-based style would help, and even more so playing as an 8/LCM. Also, when out of possession, Luiz could drop next to Declan Rice to form a solid double-pivot screen in the 4-4-2.

My honest thoughts? There are several reasons I don’t think this is the BEST deal and also isn’t too likely. Firstly, the price. Villa will now demand £60m+ for Douglas Luiz especially in January when they’re in Europe & pushing to qualify for Europe in the Prem.


Player Analysis: Boubacar Kamara

I don’t think it’s likely that Villa would want to sell him mid-season when their season is going well and how important he’s been so far for them. But also, if he’s £60m+ there are better options for that amount. I’d be happy with him as a signing but as long as the fee isn’t crazy.

But there’s one big factor people aren’t considering. FFP. In the summer window, Arsenal hadn’t balanced the books enough to enable them to make any more signings after the David Raya deal even though that had to be done on a loan to fit Financial Fair Play. If Arsenal are to sign anyone in January, I’d expect there could be one or two outgoings. Whether it’ll be Luiz who comes in, let’s see. But he’d be a valuable addition to the squad with plenty of potential.


By: Ben Mattinson / @Ben_Mattinson_

Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Neville Williams – Aston Villa FC