Aston Villa are set to enter a new chapter in their history after Steven Gerrard replaced Dean Smith in the managerial hot seat, and the 41-year-old certainly has some big decisions to make.
The Villans are currently on a five-game losing streak after struggling to cope with the exit of former talisman and skipper Jack Grealish over the summer, a run that ultimately resulted in Smith’s dismissal.
If Gerrard wants to stop the rot and kickstart his tenure with a string of positive results, then he may have to make some bold decisions and recall some tried and trusted performers into the starting XI.
One of those who deserve to be instantly reinstated is Douglas Luiz.
The defensive midfielder is currently missing international duty with Brazil as he makes his continues his recovery from a hamstring injury. The £31.5m-rated gem has been absent from the Villans’ last two fixtures, both of them defeats at the hands of West Ham United and Southampton.
However, Luiz posted a photo of himself in action earlier this season, along with the caption: “I’ll be on the field soon @AVFCOfficial”, which raised hope that the South American could be set to make his comeback against Brighton and Hove Albion.
In his absence, Smith had been utilising Marvelous Nakamba at the base of the engine room, and although the 27-year-old put in some full-blooded displays, he lacks the class and guile of his more technically-gifted teammate.
Following a stellar performance against Manchester United last season, journalist Gregg Evans labelled Luiz an “absolute star” while he’s also caught the eye of former Napoli manager Gianni Di Marzio.
The Italian tactician spent some time talking to TuttoMercatoWeb Radio about some of the up and coming players that have impressed him in the past and recently.
Among them was the Villa star. He said: “During the Toulon tournament, I was impressed by a playmaker called Douglas Luiz, who seems ready for the jump in Italy. He’s 22 and seems to be among the best in his role.
“Now he’s at Aston Villa and has also been called up for Brazil. He’s very technical, he acts like a filter in front of the defence. A little like Miralem Pjanić, so to speak. He anticipates the opponent well”.
And when looking at Luiz’s underlying numbers, his importance to the Midlands outfit becomes evidently clear.
As per FBref.com, the youngster has recorded 1.84 tackles, 2.24 blocks and 2.5 interceptions per 90 this season, bettering Nakamba’s tallies of 1.75, 1.5 and 1.25, respectively.
But Luiz has also outperformed his Zimbabwean colleague when in possession of the ball as well, highlighting his influence over proceedings at both ends of the pitch.
Luiz has made 2.9 Shot Creating Actions per 90 and 1.71 key passes, whereas Nakamba has put up totals of just 0.76 and 0.25.
Therefore, Gerrard must get the Brazilian back into his starting lineup as soon as possible in order to make his spell in the Midlands a success, restoring the balance back to his midfield in the process.