Douglas Luiz: Aston Villa's diamond in the rough
Douglas Luiz  battling against Sheffield United's Ollie McBurnie (Photo by Paul Ellis/Pool via Getty Images)

Since joining Aston Villa from Manchester City in summer 2019 for £15m, Douglas Luiz is a player who has split the opinions of the Villa faithful. Since the return of the Premier League, Luiz has been one of Villa's stand out performers in a struggling Aston Villa side. 

Luiz marked his Villa Park debut against Bournemouth by scoring a wonder goal in front of the famous Holte End. After receiving the ball from Jack Grealish approximately 25 yards from goal, he effortlessly curled the ball into the top right corner, beating a fully-stretched  Aaron Ramsdale rather comfortably. 

It was a goal he then went on to replicate against Norwich away at Carrow Road in October in Villa's rampant 5-1 win.

Setting the standard

Since returning to action during 'Project Restart', Luiz's defensive awareness, incredible range of passing and magical vision have earned the 22-year-old plenty of plaudits.

The Brazilian has received an average of 6.59 match rating since returning to action (via WhoScored.com), whilst also contributing to Kortney Hause's goal against Chelsea with a wonderful deep cross into the box.

Despite Villa picking up a disappointing two points from a possible nine since the Premier League's return, Luiz has looked the best of the bunch in a struggling Villa side.

His admirers

Once Luiz made the switch to Aston Villa, his former manager Pep Guardiola expressed his frustrations in being unable to secure a work permit for the Brazilian.

"He would be here if a work permit were possible if the Premier League said it would be possible but now he is at Aston Villa.

"We wanted him before so we thought about it but the rules with the work permit meant it was not possible.

"The talent is always there, we’ll see at the end of the season what his level is but the quality is always there". 

Luiz was also ranked seventh in the world in FourFourTwo's most promising players under the age of 20, within reach of the likes of Gianluigi Donnaruma, Kylian MbappéMarcus Rashford, Kai Havertz and many more talented youngsters. 

His best position?

Villa have opted with a 4-3-3 for the majority of the season, with Luiz claiming the '6' position in the midfield. His flair on the ball and ability to pick out a pass from 70 yards or even seven yards demonstrates the Brazilian's ability to play as a deep-lying playmaker. 

Luiz's overall game has improved since the return of the Premier League, notably with his urgency when on the ball in Villa's defensive phase - constantly aware of the opposition's press.

The midfielder boasts a 52% tackle success rate, has blocked 14 shots, made 21 interceptions and 156 recoveries so far this season.

Given Luiz's xG of 2.1 and xA of 1.2, it seems he may benefit from operating in a double pivot with either Marvelous Nakamba or John McGinn - sharing the defensive responsibilities to help take the pressure off Jack Grealish from being Villa's main creative outlet. 

Avoiding the drop

Whilst Villa currently sit 19th in the Premier League, with only goal difference keeping them in the relegation zone, Luiz's performances from Villa's clash against Sheffield United will prove vital when battling against the drop.

If keeping Villa in the Premier League isn't enough motivation for Luiz, Manchester City's £25m buy-back clause could easily be triggered come the end of the season.

With seven games left, Douglas is a player to keep an eye on, his range of passing, ability to glide past players in a manner such as Grealish and newfound defensive awareness combining to make a remarkable Premier League midfielder. 

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