Both Douglas Luiz and Palhinha will feature high on the Arsenal wish list next month, but which of these two names should Mikel Arteta prioritise for his title-chasing squad?
Past transfer activity suggests Luiz is our standout choice, with the 25-year-old subject to three deadline-day bids in September 2022 and now reportedly considered to be a “perfect” midfield fit by the Gunners hierarchy.
However, his long-term contract at Villa Park has turned our gaze towards Fulham’s Palhinha- another player who is well-accustomed to deadline drama and could, likewise, develop a formidable partnership with Declan Rice in the Arsenal engine room.
Douglas Luiz or Joao Palhinha - who should Arsenal sign in January?
Douglas Luiz ticks every box
There are several reasons why Arteta should look no further than Luiz. As demonstrated via his starring role in the Aston Villa revival, he boasts a complete midfield profile which allows him to dictate play from deep and win the ball back when required, whilst also chipping in with his fair share of goals.
Comfort in either a double or single pivot, in addition to his #8 potential, means Luiz can offer us a tactical flexibility and depth that would prove invaluable over a long, arduous campaign.
Furthermore, his abundant Premier League experience might enable him to make the same, immediate impact as last year’s mid-season arrivals- a priceless quality for a title race that may be decided by fine margins.
An extortionate price tag indicates the ship has already sailed and Unai Emery will not want to scupper his own team’s ambitions, but it would be a fantastic deal to pull off.
A different but worthy alternative
In the black and white corner stands the equally impressive Palhinha: a player with more defensive nous yet still quite capable of making attacking contributions.
Although not as aesthetically pleasing, Palhinha’s ‘enforcer’ profile is just as important for any side and offers a qualitative bonus that could free up others to unlock our offensive threat, with both his 147 tackles last season and 64 so far this term ranking him first among all domestic peers.
The offensive potential such tenacity can inspire is evidenced by the niche statistic of ‘Next Possession xG after Tackles’ which measures the expected goals generated in passages of play directly following a player’s tackles.
Coming in at 2.04 last year (as of March 2023), Palhinha was far ahead of everyone else in this area and made tackles that were worth about two goals to Fulham, while his Emirates strike in August shows he knows where the goal is himself too.
Again, although a hefty fee will make this transfer difficult to pull off, it is one Arsenal have discussed internally and it is certainly worth exploring.
While either player would significantly boost our squad (and deplete our finances), his all-round ability and better technical skills means Douglas Luiz should be the preferred option.
It appears Arsenal view the matter similarly and a pre-established relationship with the player’s camp which might help our cause. Meanwhile, Luiz himself has said he is “happy to hear” of admiring glances yet remains focused on maintaining his excellent form at Aston Villa.
His relatively new contract and a prominent role under Emery indicate it will take an extraordinary bid to prise Luiz away from Villa Park in January, but can you put a price on winning the title?