Yes, it’s the international break, and so news of any real significance is going to have to take a backseat. With nearly a fortnight between now and our next fixture, and with Fortnite OG’s recent release, we turn to all the big noises and shiny things. Something’s been troubling me lately, namely, the fitness or lack thereof of our own Thomas Partey. He’s missed our last seven matches after a fifteen-minute cameo against Man City and faces a layoff that will last well into December. Could we find a replacement, maybe even an upgrade, in Villa’s Douglas Luiz?
We kicked the proverbial tyres on this just a few weeks ago, but new developments (and the interlull) prompt a return. While Villa are flying high, they are not yet in a position to dictate terms or turn away from a chance to upgrade. With that in mind, could we perhaps offer them someone like Smith Rowe, Nketiah, or (gasp) Nelson? Each lad is marginal at best to our squad but could prove instrumental to Villa’s.
For ourselves, we’re going to need to deal with Partey’s situation sooner rather than later. Injury concerns aside, there’s also the deepy unsavoury allegations against him. If I’m being honest, I’d much rather see us wash our hands of the whole situation.
Those issues aside, Villa legend Gabriel Agbonlahor has said, “let’s be honest, Douglas Luiz wanted to leave Aston Villa because Arsenal bid and the club didn’t accept it. Douglas Luiz was in a great position as his contract was up in the summer.” It might take upwards of £50m to prise the Brazilian away from Emery’s Villa, but we did do them a solid in selling them Emi Martinez, and our own Brazilian contingent (Jesus, Gabriel, and Martinelli) might pour some honey in his ear during this accursed international break.
If we’re not willing to match VIlla’s up-front asking price, we might be able to sweeten the deal by throwing in one of those aforementioned fringe players (much as it pains me to label any of our Hale End lads thusly). A double pivot of Luiz and Rice would absolutely sizzle, each of them equally capable of playing as a 6 or an 8, shielding the defense or bombing forward. Luiz has six goals and an assist, suggesting he’s quite capable of more than merely shielding the defense.
Way back in 2018-19, Emery was enough of a fan of Smith Rowe, at the time just 18 years old, to play him six times: twice in the Carabao cup and four times in the Europa League. The Smith delivered three goals form those six appearances, perhaps presaging his explosion onto the Prem scene in 2021-22. To see him then fall down the pecking order behind Martinelli, Trossard, and even Havertz has to sting more than a little—but maybe there are enough fond memories between Emery and Smith Rowe to augur a fond reunion?
If nothing else, a public pursuit of Luiz will send Todd Boehly off on a wild goose-chase. He’ll throw £80m at Aston Villa to get Luiz before we do while we flit off to sign someone like Zubimendi from Real Sociedad for half the fee. Why not? It’s worked before.
Prepare yourselves for a few weeks of this kind of folderol.
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