Aston Villa manager Dean Smith has confirmed a major blow ahead of his side’s Premier League clash against Watford on Saturday afternoon.
The Midlands club get their campaign underway when they make the trip to Vicarage Road to take on a newly-promoted Hornets side.
However, speaking in his pre-match press conference, the Villa manager confirmed a significant blow to his squad, revealing that Douglas Luiz will not be available for selection following his involvement in Brazil’s Olympic Games triumph last weekend.
Smith said: “Douglas will be coming back in on Monday, hopefully with his gold medal around his neck and he’ll get a good welcome from everybody. I’ve been really pleased with what he’s done at the Olympics and I’m proud of him.”
The 23-year-old has pretty much been a permanent fixture in Smith’s side since making the switch to Villa Park in 2019, already making 76 appearances for the first-team and playing 33 out of their 38 Premier League games last season.
His form even earned him international honours, picking up his first senior caps for Brazil, so it’s been no surprise then that his market value has sky-rocketed, now standing at £31.5m according to Transfermarkt compared to the £9m upon his arrival at the club two years ago.
Speaking last summer, The Athletic journalist Gregg Evans said of Luiz: “He’s an absolute joy to watch now and I never thought I would be saying that. Villa have got a fantastic player in Douglas Luiz now, he looks like an absolute star, he could have played in that Man United team.
“He was better than (Paul) Pogba, I thought. I thought he was brilliant, hardly did anything wrong, hardly put a foot wrong. He won so many interceptions and made so many important blocks. When he gets the ball, he passes it nicely. He’s the best player in that Villa team at the moment because it’s just not working for John McGinn.”
The fact that Luiz was a virtual ever-present for Smith last season shows the kind of importance he has to this side, and it’s exactly why the Villa boss will be gutted to be without the Brazilian for today’s clash against Watford – especially as Pau Torres, who played for Spain in the Olympic final, was involved for Villarreal in the UEFA Super Cup against Chelsea on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, this Villa star could now leave…