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Liverpool could sign £60m Guimaraes alternative who’s “just like Rice”

Written by on June 4, 2024

Last summer, Liverpool’s desperation for a new holding midfielder was rather patent.

Fabinho had been sold to Al-Ittihad for £40m in July after losing his legs somewhere at the start of the 2022/23 campaign; he did not find them. James Milner and a host of others had left upon the expiry of their contracts, while Jordan Henderson was also sold after refusing a role of diminishing importance.

But with every skewing transfer rumour, for every batted-away bid for Romeo Lavia, for every £111m British-record-transfer-move offer for Brighton & Hove Albion’s Moises Caicedo, whose heart was set on Stamford Bridge, Liverpool’s desperation spread, deepened.

But the £16m signing of Wataru Endo from Stuttgart, a largely unknown 30-year-old midfielder, was not a frantic throw, an accepting roll of the dice – the Japan international was not the first choice but he was identified as a shrewd solution, one which paid off during Jurgen Klopp’s final campaign.

But he was never going to be the long-term solution, and now FSG and Michael Edwards and Arne Slot will be eager to find and sign a talented No. 6 with the potential of world-class quality.

Liverpool transfer rumours

According to a report from Calcio Mercato last week, Liverpool are in the mix to sign Aston Villa star Douglas Luiz, though it is currently Serie A side Juventus who hold the lead in the race.


Aston Villa star Douglas Luiz

Arsenal and Manchester United are also understood to be keeping tabs on the Brazil international, who is valued at around £60m by Unai Emery’s side, who qualified for the Champions League with a top-four Premier League finish.

Luiz is not the only name on Edwards’ radar but his proven performances in the English top flight speak of the value in fighting for his signature.

Douglas Luiz’s season in numbers

The Athletic’s Jacob Tanswell has claimed that Luiz is “one of the Premier League’s standout midfielders“, and indeed it’s hard to refute such claims after his place at the heartland of Aston Villa’s success, a central midfielder but also a figure of central significance.

Scoring ten goals and adding as many assists for Villa across all competitions this season, the midfield general was breathtaking and simply irreplaceable in the centre of the park, blending his industrious qualities with a unique attacking ability.

Indeed, as per FBref, the 5 foot 10 star ranks among the top 16% of midfielders across Europe’s top five leagues over the past year for goals, the top 17% for shot-creating actions and the top 20% for passes attempted per 90, highlighting how he could make a real impact on Slot’s first team at Liverpool.


Aston Villa players including Douglas Luiz

What’s more, he’s actually been compared favourably against Arsenal’s Declan Rice by pundit Jermaine Pennant, who said last December: “I would say Douglas Luiz of Aston Villa, I think he can do everything that Rice can do and better. I think he assists more, he chips in with goals more than Rice.

“Creativity wise he’s better, flair is better, he can put in a tackle just like Rice, break up play just like Rice. So I think if someone said to me you can have Douglas Luiz for £60m or Declan Rice for £100m, easy every day of the week, Douglas Luiz.”

Premier League 23/24: Douglas Luiz vs Declan Rice

Stat (per 90)

Douglas Luiz

Declan Rice

Matches played

35

38

Matches started

35

37

Goals

9

7

Assists

5

8

Pass completion

89%

91%

Big chances created

10

9

Key passes

1.5

1.2

Ball recoveries

5.3

4.7

Tackles

1.7

2.2

Duels won

4.2 (51%)

4.1 (52%)

Dribble attempts

0.7 (60%)

0.6 (51%)

All stats via Sofascore

Mikel Arteta signed Rice from West Ham United for £105m last summer and, let’s be fair, he’s one of the leading players of his position worldwide, but Luiz knows his stuff and Pennant’s praise might just have some truth to it.

Rice would be the perfect player to strengthen Anfield’s engine room but – out on a limb, here – he’s probably not available. Therefore, Luiz might just be the best player to move for, perhaps even more so than Newcastle United’s Bruno Guimaraes…

Why Liverpool should sign Douglas Luiz

Liverpool’s midfield abounds with high-quality players but Endo isn’t the same standard as Manchester City’s Rodri, nor Arsenal’s Rice. He can stand proud after a successful campaign but Chelsea’s Caicedo could yet grow into one of Europe’s leading midfielders, having demonstrated his elite skills at 22 years old in testing conditions at Chelsea.

Endo will play a part in Liverpool’s squad under Slot but he must not be the principal holding midfielder. As per Spanish sources, Guimaraes is now being considered by Liverpool amid growing reports that the Magpies might need to part with some silver this summer to stay in line with Profit and Sustainability rules.

But Luiz’s countryman would not come cheap, with Newcastle hoping for a suitor to pay his €115m (£100m) release clause.

Guimaraes is a brilliant player, with his teammate Dan Burn remarking that he is “world-class“, producing a Premier League campaign that displays his strengths across almost every area.

Bruno Guimaraes PL Stats 23/24

Stat

#

Matches played

37

Matches started

37

Goals

7

Assists

8

Pass completion

85%

Big chances created

12

Key passes per game

1.7

Dribbles per game

1.9

Ball recoveries per game

6.4

Tackles per game

2.4

Duels won per game

7.7

Stats via Sofascore

He’s rather good. But Guimaraes would cost a fortune and Edwards and FSG will be well aware of the need to enforce changes across a range of positions this summer.

Last year, the Reds pulled out of the race to sign Jude Bellingham following concerns that it would take too hefty a figure to bring the prodigy to Anfield, something that might have proved detrimental given the size of the task in revamping the midfield.

Instead, investment was spread and Liverpool returned to prominence, restoring their place in the Champions League, competing for the Premier League title and winning the Carabao Cup.

Douglas Luiz might not be Guimaraes but he is still a player of high-level acumen – hailed as “incredible” by journalist Zach Lowy – and he would be a wonderful addition to Slot’s Liverpool.

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