With just four days remaining of the January transfer window, time is running out for Arsenal to bolster their Champions League hopes with new signings.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Pablo Mari, Folarin Balogun and Karl Hein have all left the club on loan while Sead Kolasinac terminated his contract to facilitate a move to Marseille but in terms of incomings it has been painfully quiet in North London.
Edu has missed out securing a move for top centre forward target Dusan Vlahovic, with the Serbian now set to join Juventus, while midfielder Bruno Guimaraes appears to be on his way to Newcastle.
This does not mean however, that the Gunners will not look to bring anyone in before the window slams shut on January 31.
Reports have suggested that after missing out on Guimaraes, Arsenal have turned their attentions to his compatriot Douglas Luiz.
The 23-year-old worked with Mikel Arteta during the Spaniard’s time at Manchester City and has impressed this season in a deeper midfield position at Aston Villa.
However, it is the role the Brazilian played during the early part of Steven Gerrard ‘s reign as Aston Villa manager that may be of particular interest to Arteta.
After taking over at Villa Park, Gerrard immediately set about fielding his side in different variations of a 4-3-3 formation.
Initially there was no place in that set up for Luiz, but after replacing Jacob Ramsey as a substitute during the 2-1 victory over Crystal Palace, the 23-year-old was then then given a chance from the start in the Villains next fixture against Manchester City.
Instead of being deployed in his usual sitting role though, Gerrard opted to use Luiz in a more advanced position in order to press Pep Guardiola’s side and exert more control on the game. The move worked a treat and the Brazilian was able to grab an assist during a respectable 2-1 defeat.
The former City midfielder was then kept in the same role for subsequent clashes against Leicester and Liverpool, the latter of which he recorded five tackles, won nine duels, completed 100% of his dribbles, made four progressive passes and ranked second in terms of pressures with 27.
The Brazilian has since been restored to his more customary deeper lying role as Gerrard has looked to utilise the attacking talents of Ramsey and John McGinn, but that brief run in the team could well be what is attracting Arteta to signing him.
When discussing the type of Arsenal side he dreamed of managing back in December 2020 the Spaniard admitted he wanted his team to be a front footed one that won the ball often in the opposition half of the pitch.
“The aggressiveness, the effectiveness, the amount of steals we make in opposition half I think we have been very steady against some big clubs,” he said when describing what he had been pleased with in his first year in charge.
This trait was on full display last month, as Arsenal went on their most successful run during Arteta’s time in charge, winning five matches in a row and scoring 19 goals in the process.
Key to the run was the more advanced role adopted by Granit Xhaka.
With Thomas Partey sitting back to help build play from deep and provide defensive cover, the Swiss international was asked to get forward in order to win the ball high up the pitch as demonstrated by his assist for Gabriel Martinelli ‘s second goal against Leeds.
While Xhaka was suspended for two matches due to his red card against Liverpool and missed the FA Cup clash against Nottingham Forest due to COVID, it became abundantly clear, that there is no one in the squad capable of replicating this vital role in the team. If Arteta is looking to address that lack of depth then it would seem that Luiz is the man.
For now though, it seems that Arsenal are focusing their transfer efforts on the long term.
football.londonunderstands that they are close to sealing a move for goalkeeper Matt Turner to arrive at the Emirates in the summer. The American will take over from as back to Aaron Ramsdale from Bernd Leno who is likely to leave in order to pursue regular game time ahead of the Qatar World Cup.
If the Gunners want to address problem in their squad in the hear and now though, it would seem that signing Douglas Luiz would go a long way to achieving their manager’s ambitions for his side.
Source by Football London