One of the less heralded deals of the summer sees Douglas Luiz moving from Brazil to Manchester City, as Pep makes longterm plans in the EPL
Manchester City have announced the signing of Vasco da Gama rising star Douglas Luiz. The midfielder was one of the revelations of the Brazilian squad in the South American U-20 championships in January, and has since successfully made the transition to the Carioca side’s first team, proving to be one of the most consistent performers in the Campeonato Brasileiro in 2017.
Reputable Spanish tactician Pep Guardiola is well-known for being picky when it comes to midfielders. The Pep system is heavily dependent on the technical quality and passing range of the players being utilized in central areas. The fact that the Man City boss gave the green light for the signing of the 19-year old, is already a recognition of the highest possible degree. You have to be really special to attract the attention of one of the most successful managers over the past decade.
Stylistically speaking, Douglas is a typical Brazilian “segundo volante” – which is the equivalent of the box-to-box midfielder who has more attacking responsibilities than the “primeiro volante” – usually the one charged of winning the ball back. When in possession against low defensive blocks, Luiz is capable of dropping deep and distributing the ball, thanks to his decent passing skills.
However, while his ball distribution is good, Douglas is not a typical deep-lying playmaker. In fact, the Brazil U-20 international’s most important asset is his ability to drive the ball forward, thanks to his dribbling skills, close control and agility while weaving between the defenders. When closing in on the final third, the youngster is capable of wrapping things up, either with his ability to to deliver to killer pass, or thanks to his remarkable shooting skills. As a matter of fact, he has already scored a couple of long-range screamers in 2017.
Defensively speaking, the Brazilian has a high work-rate and is smart at reading the opponent’s mind and intercepting the pass before it reaches its target. However, the biggest concern remains his physical strength. Douglas is rather light-weight, which would cause him problems if he operates as a midfielder with an overload of defensive responsibilities in a very demanding league, as England’s. This could perhaps force him to make the transition into a more advanced role, than the one he occupied in Brazil, in order to adapt his game to the EPL.
İlkay Gündoğan had a very impressive campaign with Borussia Dortmund, in the 2013/2014 UEFA Champions League. The Nationalmannschaft star excelled at driving the ball forward with his technique, and was decisive in the final third, ending up with a quality delivery. He is the type of player who Douglas Luiz seems to be the closest to, if we were to compare him to an already established star in Europe football.
Whether Guardiola intends to utilize Douglas in the same function he had in mind for the injury-prone German midfielder, remains to be seen. However, the first obstacle would be securing the Brazilian a work-permit that would allow him to ply his trade in England. Else, a loan move to newly La Liga promoted side Girona, could well be on the cards. The next few days will be decisive.