Since Arsenal lost Granit Xhaka in the summer transfer window, a rather large hole has been left behind in Mikel Arteta's midfield.

The Swiss was a force of nature in the middle of the park for the Gunners last term, recording career-best figures as the club nearly won the title.

In total, Xhaka found the net on nine occasions and even registered seven assists for his troubles. Since moving on, he is yet to find the net in Bayer Leverkusen colours but he has been part of a Xabi Alonso side who are yet to lose a single game this term, as they sit pretty at the top of the Bundesliga.


On the flip side, Arsenal also sit top of the Premier League. In that regard, Xhaka isn't missed but they do miss a potency from central areas that they had last term.

How Arsenal can fix Xhaka's absence

Arsenal moved swiftly in the summer to secure the services of £65m Kai Havertz but it hasn't gone according to plan yet for the German who has scored just three times since arriving.

Greener pastures have emerged in the last week - Havertz scored against Brentford and Lens - but he still has a great deal to do in order to repay that summer fee.


As such, another midfielder is being targeted ahead of 2024. That happens to be Aston Villa's Douglas Luiz.

At the beginning of November, outlet TEAMtalk revealed that he is one of Edu's top targets, although Arsenal may well have to cough up £80m to lure him to the Emirates Stadium, as per another report from the same publication.

The Gunners have tried previously to sign Luiz, notably submitting three bids in 2022, one of which was a £25m offer that was rejected on transfer deadline day that summer.

Douglas Luiz's style of play

Luiz is seemingly the perfect type of player to fill the Xhaka void in the middle of Arsenal's midfield.

Capable of dictating play from deep and breaking up the play, he offers certain elements of the game that Declan Rice has so successfully brought to Arsenal after his £100m move from West Ham.


However, Luiz's qualities in the final third also evoke memories of Xhaka and indeed Martin Odegaard.

Stats-based website FBref actually notes that Rice is one of the most similar players in the Premier League to the Brazilian. That can be seen in a certain array of defensive metrics.

Douglas Luiz - most similar players (Premier League)

#1 Bruno Guimaraes

#2 Christian Eriksen

#3 Pascal Gross

#4 Conor Gallagher

#5 Rodri

#6 Enzo Fernandez

#7 Mateo Kovacic

#8 Declan Rice

#9 Idrissa Gueye

#10 Dominik Szoboszlai

Data supplied by FBref.

Indeed, in the defensive and middle thirds of the pitch, the two make a very similar number of tackles per 90 minutes while they boast a similar number of touches each match, highlighting the regularity with which they are involved in proceedings.

Furthermore, their passing lines are alike, with the total distance of their passes and completion rate not too dissimilar.


Then, when it comes to the offensive side of the game, Luiz ranks closely to Odegaard for certain metrics. This term, their expected goals per 90 tally is exactly the same and they're both highly involved in general shot-creating actions - that counts passes, take-ons or fouls that consequently lead to a shot on goal.

For context, Rice makes 1.72 per 90 to Luiz's 3.71 and Odegaard's 4.86. You can clearly see, therefore, how the Brazilian “warrior” as he was labelled by broadcaster Jack Grimse, has the best of both Arsenal stars.

Luiz vs Rice vs Odegaard - 2023/24

Stat vs Rice (* = per 90 mins)






Defensive 3rd tackles*



Middle 3rd tackles*






Progressive passing distance*

259 yards

252 yards

Pass completion %



Stat vs Odegaard (* = per 90 mins)






Expected goals (xG)*



Shot-creating actions*



Progressive carries*



All data via FBref.

Signing such a player, who has also been lauded for his "ridiculous" ability by journalist Sam Tighe, would be a big capture.

Arsenal like to sign players from the Premier League; you only need to look at the business they've done this year to notice that and Luiz simply has to be the next.

He not only fills the Xhaka void but he could add an extra glue and offensive verve that takes Arsenal to another level. At £80m, it might be worth the hit.