The Age of No.6: Is Douglas Luiz the Hidden Gem in the Midfield Market?
The era of the No.6 midfielder is well underway, and it has been for some time now. Over the past couple of years, the prices for versatile midfield players, possessing a blend of physicality, all-round skill and box-to-box presence, have skyrocketed. Only two transfers in the top 15 of all time made since 2021, Romelu Lukaku and Jack Grealish, do not fall under this new breed of No.6 talents.
Aurelien Tchouameni, while not as high on the list as his contemporaries, kickstarted this trend. In 2021, while Chelsea brought in Lukaku and opted not to seriously pursue Tchouameni, instead signing Saul Niguez for his experience and assurance, Real Madrid secured the services of the French midfielder for approximately £80 million. Since then, things have gone a bit bonkers.
Three players below the age of 24, just like Tchouameni, have commanded fees above £100 million. Jude Bellingham, for instance, moved for £88 million. Enzo Fernandez, Declan Rice, and Moises Caicedo followed suit in the past 12 months, with Caicedo becoming the most expensive at £115 million. The domino effect of these transfers has raised the market floor for other players in a similar position and style.
One player often overlooked is Aston Villa’s Douglas Luiz. Despite being only 25, the Brazilian midfielder has been in exceptional form under Unai Emery and is a key figure in a Villa side that is currently just two points off the top of the table. Moreover, Villa currently boasts the highest number of goals and only Manchester City has more wins.
Considering the current market, Luiz appears to be a steal. Last summer, he was close to leaving Villa, with both Arsenal and Tottenham expressing interest in signing him. It was believed that he might even become available for free. However, Villa extended his contract until 2026 and haven’t regretted their decision. They rejected offers from Arsenal, which reached £25 million. Today, Luiz is valued at around £45 million.
Luiz’s value has risen due to his increased importance to Villa and Emery. Arriving in England with talent but relatively unknown, Luiz has proven himself as a solid defensive midfielder while also showcasing his versatility and playmaking abilities. His stats have been compared to top midfielders like Bruno Guimaraes and Youri Tielemans, highlighting his impact on the pitch.
In terms of potential suitors, both Arsenal and Tottenham have been on the lookout for midfield reinforcements. Their interest in Luiz last summer indicates their willingness to strengthen that area of the team. With his well-rounded game and threat in the final third, Luiz could be a valuable addition to either side.
For Arsenal, Luiz could be a replacement for the aging Granit Xhaka and an eventual successor to Thomas Partey. Luiz’s ability to contribute on both ends of the pitch makes him an enticing option. As for Tottenham, Luiz’s skill set could provide an upgrade to the midfield, particularly in light of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s recent struggles to secure regular playing time.
However, with Luiz’s rising value and his prominent role for Villa, any potential bid would have to meet their demands. Villa’s ambitions to compete for a top-four spot and a European place, coupled with Luiz’s recent performances, make him an indispensable asset.
While Luiz’s future remains uncertain, it is clear that he has emerged as one of the best midfield performers in the league. The age of No.6 midfielders has significantly impacted his market value, making him a costly acquisition for any interested club.
Michael Johnson is your soccer guru, providing extensive coverage of soccer. With a global perspective, he delivers match reports, player interviews, and insights into the beautiful game, ensuring readers stay connected to the world of soccer.