One of the few names to escape the transfer rumour merry-go-around is pleasingly that of Villa’s outstanding midfielder Douglas Luiz.
The young Brazilian found his early appearances in the Premier League both a culture shock in terms of physicality but also took a number of months to adapt to the pace of the domestic English game. A couple of costly errors and shaky showings underlined that fact.
However, once he’d found his feet, Luiz not only established himself as a regular in a Villa shirt, but he became one of few stand-out players in a side that found itself in a relegation dogfight.
It is easy to forget just how young and relatively inexperienced the Brazilian was when he arrived at Villa Park. Indeed, given the mature technique and composure that became his mainstay post-lockdown, it was easy to forget that this was a debut top-flight season in the world’s best club league that we were witnessing.
As Luiz began to dictate the tempo of football matches, read the play expertly and unleash a range of passing the likes of Westwood (shudder) could only dream about, it was hard to fathom we were watching a footballer of just 22 years of age.
The modern game is full of quirks, not least in terms of the ownership arrangement between Manchester City and Villa for the midfielder. The dreaded “buy-back option” loomed larger after each high quality performance.
The reality is that Manchester City’s trajectory is decidedly different to Aston Villa’s right now. They are pondering how to overcome a Liverpool side that has benefited from thoughtful year on year progression under Jurgen Klopp.
Douglas Luiz looks like he has the capability to go to the top of the game, but Pep Guardiola will need ready made reinforcements if he hopes to relinquish Liverpool of their title. That’s no slight on the Brazilian international, but a reflection rather of the urgent ground his former club must make up.
That’s music to many fans ears no doubt, as is the £1 million fee that Villa are reported to have paid The Etihad based side having avoided the drop. This cash seems a more than reasonable sum, especially in light of the fact that a player of Luiz’s calibre would undoubtedly have moved on in the event of Smith leading Villa in The Championship.
The former Girona loanee now also see’s a diminishing clause ticking on his current Villa deal, enabling City to activate any buy-back only for a further calendar year. If Guardiola does want to take Luiz back, then it will at the very least reflect a meteoric rise whilst in a Villa shirt. Oh, and the small matter of a £25 million fee.
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