Villa’s New Wave
Aston Villa have finally concluded the signing of Brazilian U-23 captain Douglas Luis from Manchester City in what could be a key transfer to Dean Smith’s ambitions in the coming season.
The 21-year-old could potentially be seen as a pivot to an increasingly fluid midfield set-up for Villa. Enabling Villa to play out of the back more comfortably, allowing them to control their build-up play with smarter possession.
By all accounts, playing in a deeper DM role, Luis transitions the ball out of his defensive third smoothly. He’ll have plenty of options in the Villa midfield to help build play. He has the likes of Grealish and McGinn around him scheming in the middle, the technically astute and alert Jota, El Ghazi and Trezeguet out wide, and new and more dynamic full-backs down the flanks.
On paper, at least, it looks like a mouth-watering prospect, especially when you factor in how Villa’s other Brazilian, Wesley, has been linking up with his teammates to build play in the pre-season friendlies.
“Douglas is an extremely talented young player with an outstanding pedigree who I am sure will fit nicely into our style and system of play,” Dean Smith told the club website.
Luis certainly looks good on paper. Pep Guardiola speaks highly of him. He’s an ex-Manchester City player and he’s Brazilian youth level national team captain to boot.
To date, Luis has had his Premier League ambition frustrated by not being granted a work permit while at Manchester City. Hence, he’s never played a competitive game for their first team.
Bought two seasons ago for £10million from Vasco da Gama, Luis was always seen by Pep Guardiola as a future first-team player at the Etihad.
Initially, he was going to be fast-tracked as cover for Fernandinho, but that was thwarted by the Home Office, who refused the player a work permit.
Instead of gracing the Etihad, Luiz has spent the past two seasons out on loan playing in La Liga for Girona.
While Luiz came across very confident in his own abilities in the interview on the Villa’s website, he is still very much an up and comer, as opposed to the finished article.
“I came here to learn but, more than anything, to dream big and to be a leader on the pitch,” said Luiz, in his induction interview.
The key word is ‘learn’, so it’s important to slow the hype train down on him and it’s why Villa are also enlisting the services of Champions League experienced DM, Marvelous Nakamba from Club Brugge.
Luiz started 16 games in his second season at Girona, with a further seven appearances from the bench. While he had a tidy 84.5% pass success rate, ultimately he was a bit-part player for a relegated team.
The season before, he only started once for Girona, with a further 14 appearances as a substitute.
So, this is very much a player breaking through and still in his infancy at the top level.
As is standard at Manchester City, it’s been reported that they have a buy back clause in the deal with Villa, which essentially means the Villa transfer is something of a ‘glorified loan’. Villa should make good on their reported £15m investment, but it’ll be interesting to know what the ‘buy back’ trigger amount actually is.
However, for now, he’s a Villa player and the Brazilian will be with Villa for the upcoming season, at least. Considering his age and lack of experience, Villa will surely get an additional season or two out of him, as well.
You get the feeling that this transfer is long-term planning by Manchester City. It helps them get round the work permit issue, as he’ll get more game time, but more importantly, the main attraction for doing such a deal with Villa, in Guardiola’s eyes, will have been the way Villa will set out to play under Smith. Villa Park will be seen as the perfect breeding ground to nurture the Brazilian’s talent in the Premier League for the long term.
If it doesn’t pan out for Luiz, then City will have made a profit on their initial fee. If he does flourish, then ultimately Villa will be winners whatever happens.