Arsenal transfer: Merson tips Arteta’s ‘underrated top target’ to rival Gunners, Man City standouts

Paul Merson has backed Arsenal target Douglas Luiz to rival Declan Rice and Manchester City star Rodri as one of the top midfielders in the Premier League.

Luiz has been among the top performers in Unai Emery’s high-flying Aston Villa side so far this season, registering seven goals and six assists in 29 appearances in all competitions.

Villa currently sit second in the Premier League table, just three points behind leaders Liverpool and two ahead of both reigning champions Manchester City and Arsenal.

Man City – who previously signed Luiz in 2017 but were unable to field him due to work permit issues – Arsenal and Liverpool are among the clubs to have been linked with a move for the 25-year-old. Spanish giants Barcelona are reportedly interested too.

And Merson, who won two first division with Arsenal, believes others are coming to realise that the Brazilian international is among the best midfielders currently operating in English football.

He told Sportskeeda: “I’ve been on about the Aston Villa man for god knows how long, so people know I’ve always been a huge fan of him. Douglas Luiz is an established campaigner.

When Arsenal wanted to sign him a year ago people didn’t really rate him too highly, but now everyone can see what he’s all about as he’s been absolutely ripping it up for Aston Villa this season.

“He can sit as a holding midfielder and mop things up for his team but he also gets in the box and scores goals – as we’ve seen so often this season. He’s quite well-rounded and still very underrated.

“But in the 2023/24 campaign, he has started getting his fair share of recognition. People wouldn’t put him in the same breath as Declan Rice or Rodri, but based on their performances this season I’d certainly put Luiz up there with the pair.

“With Casemiro and Fabinho past their best in recent seasons, the ex-Manchester City midfielder could also become a key player for Brazil in the years ahead

Merson’s comments come after Nedum Onohua, the former Man City and Queens Park Rangers defender, mentioned Luiz alongside Rice and Rodri as the best midfielders in the Premier League this season.

“For me, Rodri, Declan Rice and Douglas Luiz have been the best of the best in midfield this season,” Onouha said in an appearance on the BBC’s Final Score programme.

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