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Arsenal can forget Zubimendi by signing £60m star who’s “similar” to Xhaka

Written by on June 6, 2024

Arsenal have come on leaps and bounds in recent seasons, and this year, they looked the best they have in decades, securing the most wins they have ever had in a Premier League season and boasting the best defence in the league.

However, one of the areas of the team that looked somewhat weaker in the eyes of many fans and pundits this year was the midfield, specifically in Granit Xhaka’s old position.

So, it’s unsurprising that the North Londoners have been linked with several midfielders this summer, including Martin Zubimendi.

However, with the Spaniard apparently unconvinced about leaving La Liga, the Gunners need to find another star to fill that role, and based on recent reports, they may have just the player – someone with striking similarities to their former Swiss enforcer.

Arsenal transfer news

According to a recent report from journalist Dean Jones via GIVEMESPORT, Aston Villa’s star midfielder, Douglas Luiz, is still an option that the Gunners have done plenty of scouting on ahead of the summer.


Aston Villa star Douglas Luiz

Jones makes no mention of a potential price, but a Spanish report from earlier this week revealed that Villa have set a €70m – £60m – asking price for the Brazilian as, alongside the Gunners, Liverpool, Juventus and Manchester United, are also said to be very keen.

This deal could prove costly and complicated for Edu Gaspar and Co to get over the line, but with Zubimendi potentially off the table, it’s one worth pursuing, especially given the aforementioned similarities to Xhaka.


Douglas Luiz scores for Aston Villa

How Luiz compares to Zubimendi and Xhaka

So, before discussing the comparisons between Luiz and Zubimendi, it’s worth exploring the origin of this comparison to Xhaka.

Data analyst Ben Mattinson flagged it earlier this season, highlighting that the way the Villa man has transformed from a deep-lying playmaker into a box-crashing number eight was “very similar” to the former Arsenal star’s transformation in North London.


granit-xhaka-arsenal-transfer-manchester-city-yaya-toure-arteta

Moreover, Mattinson argues that the Brazilian shares his aggression, ball-striking, and ability to play long passes with the Swiss veteran, and while he’s defensively active in the same way, he’s a “more mobile version” of the Leverkusen ace.

This evolution into an eight instead of a six is already a big plus for the former Manchester City man over the Real Sociedad star, as his inclusion in the team would allow Declan Rice to play at the base of midfield, which the Englishman openly admitted is his “best position” earlier this year.


Zubimendi-vs-Douglas-Luiz

That’s not to say that the San Sebastian-born dynamo couldn’t play as an eight, but he’s only started 55 games in central midfield compared to 142 as a six, whereas Luiz has started 143 matches in central midfield and 116 as a six.

With that said, who comes out on top when comparing their underlying numbers?

Luiz vs Zubimendi

Stats per 90

Luiz

Zubimendi

Non-Penalty Expected Goals + Assists

0.28

0.14

Non-Penalty Goals

0.15

0.14

Assists

0.15

0.03

Progressive Carries

1.80

1.15

Progressive Passes

5.05

5.15

Progressive Passes Received

1.50

0.92

Shots

1.32

0.75

Shots on Target

0.39

0.37

Passing Accuracy

85.7%

85.7%

Shot-Creating Actions

3.52

1.87

Goal-Creating Actions

0.30

0.14

Tackles

1.74

1.66

Tackles Won

1.14

0.92

Interceptions

0.69

1.25

Clearances

0.54

1.83

Successful Take-Ons

0.72

0.41

All Stats via FBref for the 23/24 League Season

Well, despite coming out second best in metrics like interceptions, clearances, and progressive passes, the “fantastic” Villa man, as described by former professional Clinton Morrison, emerges victorious in almost every area, including non-penalty expected goals and assists, progressive carries, successful take-ons, tackles and tackles won, shot and goal-creating actions and shots as well, all per 90.

Ultimately, regardless of Zubimendi’s desire to leave Spain, Arsenal should shift their focus towards Luiz, as he appears to be the perfect Xhaka heir and would allow Rice to thrive in his natural position.

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The incredible midfielder has shades of the Spaniard about him.

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