Arsenal sporting director Edu has been informed he will not be given a free pass to sign Aston Villa midfielder Douglas Luiz in January, amid claims a £60m bid is in the offing for a player also now on Manchester City’s radar.
The Brazilian midfielder was first linked with a move to Arsenal back in summer 2022 when the Gunners saw two bids – the second one topping £25m – waved away by Villa. Since then, the asking price on top midfield stars has gone through the roof, with the captures of Enzo Fernandes, Declan Rice and Moises Caicedo all topping the £100m mark.
And with Luiz since going on to sign a new deal at Aston Villa and evolving into one of the leaders of Unai Emery’s resurgent and progressive side, their chances of prising him away look tougher than ever.
Nonetheless, Arsenal continue to monitor the player’s progress and he remains very much an object of desire in Arsenal’s eyes. To that end, the Gunners are being strongly linked with a fresh move to sign him, with Mikel Arteta and Edu very much in the market for midfield upgrades.
To that end, a report last week suggested Thomas Partey, Mohamed Elneny and Jorginho would all be shown the door at Arsenal, with a four-man list of replacements being drawn up by Gunners chiefs.
With Luiz right at the top of that wishlist, Arsenal are being linked with a £60m swoop on Villa to try and prise the 25-year-old to north London to help the current Premier League leaders topple three-time Premier League champions Manchester City off their perch.
Joining them, though, in expressing an interest, are Manchester City.
Arsenal and Man City keen on Villa swoop
Pep Guardiola’s side, ironically, sold Luiz to Villa back in summer 2019, having previously brought him to the UK themselves from Vasgo da Gama.
However, with the Home Office preventing Luiz from being granted a permit, City were forced to loan him to Girona for two seasons before he was ultimately gained permission to work in the UK.
But by that stage, Villa had come calling with a £15m offer that City were happy to accept, and with the Brazilian leaving the Etihad having never once kicked a ball for the Blues.
Now City are among the clubs keen on a deal to sign Luiz, who has gone on to establish himself as one of the Premier League’s best midfielders.
With six goals and two assists to his name this season from 19 games in all competitions, Emery’s side on Sunday came from behind to beat Tottenham 2-1 on Sunday to leapfrog their rivals into the top four for the first time this season.
Emery’s side are now dreaming of possible qualification for next season’s Champions League, and with Luiz a major factor in their rise, the Spanish boss has issued a warning for the midfielder’s suitors to keep their hands off.
Unai Emery sends strong message on Douglas Luiz
Asked directly about Luiz’s form and reported interest from Arsenal, Emery had a very firm message.
“He’s playing very good. He’s improved a lot, his commitment is amazing,” Emery stated.
“I am very happy with him and I want to keep him of course. I think he’s happy with us.
“He’s coming on with his national team. And his performance like today was amazing. I want him.”
Given his performances this season, combined with Villa’s rise and the fact that the game’s very best midfielders are now commanding £100m-plus fees, it appears unlikely that the alleged £60m offer will even be considered by Villa.
Now in his fifth season at Villa Park, Luiz has 170 appearances, scoring 18 times, with 13 of those coming in the last two seasons.