Gerrard Reflects on Douglas Luiz’s Deadline Day
By Oscar Webster
Following a useful transfer deadline day, which saw the Aston Villa acquire the signature of versatile Belgian international Leander Dendoncker and secure a season-long loan for Polish international centre-back Jan Bednarek, a bigger talking point was Aston Villa seeing off the advances of Arsenal for the services of Douglas Luiz. It was a strange one. Luiz seemed to want to go, Villa were being offered over £20m for a player with only a season left on his contract. So what happened?
Douglas Luiz Situation
The first main issue that Steven Gerrard addressed at his most recent press conference was tackling the rumours surrounding the club’s Brazilian midfielder, claiming Luiz is 100% committed to his career at Villa, despite reports that the player was eager to make a move to Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal and Villa turning down every offer.
“I’ve got confidence he’ll understand the situation and club’s decision, that we didn’t want to lose a very important player and a top player so late into the window,” Gerrard said.
“I spoke to Dougie face-to-face yesterday and he understood it and the position that the club is in.”
It seems that Luiz was too happy about the situation at the time, judging by Gerrard adding:
“Hopefully it will calm down in the hours and days coming and he’ll be fine moving forward.”
Ultimately, the decision was out of Luiz’s hands, with reports of three rejected bids in the region of £20 to £25m million, with Villa rumoured to have told Arsenal to double their original £20m offer.
While anything north of £20m seems a decent fee to get for a player who’s not a regular starter and who could leave for free, maybe Villa were comparing his value to other fees in the window? They may have factored in Gerrard’s post-Arsenal match words, where he distinctly expressed an interest in keeping him, but felt it was out of his hands? Finally, maybe Luiz is needed and has a role to play in what could be a difficult season ahead for Villa?
Time will tell whether the club can secure a new contract for the midfielder, with his current deal expiring in 2023. Surely that’s an unlikely prospect? Luiz is still only 24-years-old, so you wouldn’t expect him to get too disillusion with the situation, as time is on his side.
At the moment though, everyone’s focus at Villa, including the club’s supporters, is on the here and now.
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The Gerrard’s Manchester City Thoughts
Of course, immediately in the here and now, is the small matter of the visit of Manchester City and their goal machine, Erling Haaland. When asked about the fixture against the champions this Saturday, Gerrard was quick to remind the press of the competitive nature of both Man City clashes last season, with Villa arguably unlucky to come out with zero points from both games despite causing several issues for the Citizens, home and away.
“We’ve ran this Manchester City side close on both occasions that I’ve personally competed against them with this team,” reflected, Gerrard.
“The plan will be again to make it extremely hard for them and to try and take them where they don’t want to go,” added the Villa boss.
“We don’t want to just go into the game, because of what’s happened this season, with any fear. I want the players to go and have belief and confidence and try and make it as difficult as we can for them.”
Finally, Gerrard commented on the confidence of the squad, affirming that he is backed by the dressing room, and that his players share his ambition.
“I think belief is very important at this level. I think you’ve got to belief in yourself. There will be a moment or a time where this clicks back into place I very much believe so.”
Saturday’s game will undoubtedly be a remarkably tough task for Gerrard’s men, who face a particularly in-form City team and a certain Norwegian striker who has just scored back-to-back hat-tricks in the Premier League. Can Villa reproduce the assertive performances of last season, perhaps this time getting something out of the game: or will it be another day at the office for Pep Guardiola’s Man City?