Bring on the next ones

Douglas Luiz and his time at Villa Park.

So, Douglas Luiz has gone. Not in search of the Champions League or because he wanted to win things but because otherwise we might fall foul of the most ridiculous idea since letting somebody decide matches while watching from a TV studio.

We signed Luiz in that surreal summer of 2019, when we somehow found ourselves back in the Premier League and having to replace virtually an entire once the loan signings and out of contracts had gone. He cost £15 million from Manchester City although he hadn’t played for them due to work permit problems and had been on loan at Girona for two years.

Luiz looked okay at the start of his debut season, showing glimpses of what he could do but being overshadowed at first by his fellow newcomer Marvelous Nakamba. The story of that first season was that we started off reasonably well, then faded badly before Covid hit. When football resumed Villa’s miraculous recovery was largely down to Luiz’s improved form and match reports of the time said how well he played during those final games.

The rest of his Villa career was much like that. Luiz was a fixture in the centre of midfield and at his best he was world-class. Inconsistent, admittedly, but as the seasons went by and the team improved, Luiz’s good spells got longer until he began to look like a genuine top-quality player. He went through a run of scoring direct from corners and much of Villa’s dead-ball success was down to him.

Naturally there was regular talk that he would be off, either to his old club because of a clause in his transfer or else Arsenal. In the end he signed a new contract in 2022 and at the end of a surprisingly good season he was Villa’s Player of the Year. That was a good time, the following season was even better. We got into the Champions League, Luiz looked world-class for much of 2023-24 although his form did drop for a while, not helped by the injuries that made anything like a settled midfield impossible.

Luiz is undoubtedly a quality player. He looked on occasions to be the midfield general we’ve missed for so long and he’s a Brazilian international. But he also flattered to deceive at times and more than that, despite the lengthy contract he signed, I never felt that Luiz was here for the long haul. He was always going to move on sooner rather than later.

Ultimately, though, for a player signed when our main aim was staying in the Premier League, he didn’t do too bad. He was, and remains, a Brazilian international and we’re selling him to Juventus. That would have been unthinkable when he arrived but not only has it happened, he’s stepping down a level and going because we want to get rid of him rather than him wanting to go. That’s progress.

And because he won’t be getting in our way too much, I woudn’t mind if he does well for his new club.