Arsenal did not mess around in the summer transfer window, strengthening a squad that went the distance in the Premier League title race last season by recruiting three, stand-out additions that even saw the Gunners break their transfer record in the process.
Jurrien Timber looked to be a promising signing from Ajax, the Dutch centre-back warranting a £38m transfer fee after excelling in his native Netherlands but the 22-year-old would fall foul of an ACL injury on the opening day.
Yet, in this upcoming January transfer window, Mikel Arteta could well be shopping for even more new faces to add to his group with Douglas Luiz reportedly one of the targets wanted by the Spanish head coach to complement Rice in the middle of the park.
Arsenal’s interest in Luiz
First interested in Luiz last year – Arsenal failing to land the Villa man at the time with bids waved away – the Gunners could well reignite their interest in the Brazilian when January rolls around according to football journalist Fabrizio Romano on Caught Offside.
A number of clubs are keeping tabs on Aston Villa’s £75k per-week midfielder via Capology, with Romano stating that Arsenal are very much still an interested party despite previous failed attempts.
He said, via Caught Offside: “Of course, we know that Arsenal had bids rejected for Luiz in September 2022, and he later went on to sign a new contract at Villa Park, which runs until 2026. He’s now a key player for Villa so the deal would not be an easy one, but many clubs appreciate him.”
Arteta will hope that this persistence pays off, with Luiz in electric form currently for an Aston Villa team firing on all cylinders and proving himself to be an excellent Premier League player.
Luiz’s performances for Villa this season
Luiz has particularly stood out going forward for Unai Emery’s men this season, despite naturally playing in a more reserved midfield role.
Despite his impressive performances to date, Luiz is going under the radar somewhat with football pundit and ex-Arsenal player Paul Merson referring to the one-time Manchester City man as “underrated” recently compared to other stand-out performers from the top-flight stealing the limelight.
Luiz’s more daring game overall – which saw him individually create six shot-creating actions against West Ham in October, per FBRef – would make him a perfect partner for Rice if Arsenal could seal this potential deal, who also can help out in attack when called upon.
Further, Luiz looks to be an upgrade on Havertz already with the German midfielder firing blanks in terms of goal output for his new employers.
The Brazilian is also unafraid to roll up his sleeves and win tackles to help his side consolidate, averaging 2.36 tackles per match over the last year according to FBRef.
Although the 25-year-old struggles aerially – only 0.57 aerial battles won per 90 according to FBRef from the last year – his potential partner in Rice excels where Luiz falters with an impressive 1.09 aerials won on top of making 1.72 interceptions per 90 minutes.
This suggests that the Villans star could be a tough-tackling partner for the England international, who can make up for his potential teammate’s lack of physicality in the air, and someone who can provide attacking impetus.
Arteta will hope that this potential partnership does come to fruition, the Gunners adding Luiz to the building could help the North Londoners on their way to challenge for the Premier League title once more and even win the esteemed honours.