Arsenal fail with late push for Douglas Luiz after Aston Villa reject three bids

Arsenal have failed with a late attempt to sign Douglas Luiz from Aston Villa, who are understood to have rejected three offers for the Brazil midfielder.

Mikel Arteta had been seeking extra depth with Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny sidelined through injury. Douglas Luiz was keen on the switch but Villa would not sanction his departure even though he will be out of contract next summer. Arsenal were willing to pay £25m for the 24-year-old but Villa, who have lost four of their first five league games, stood their ground.

Arsenal had long been well aware of Douglas Luiz. He crossed paths with Arteta during their spell as colleagues at Manchester City between 2017 and 2019, although the player spent most of that time on loan at Girona. He is also known to Edu, the Arsenal technical director, who was general coordinator of the Brazil national team before taking his current role.

There was the sense at Arsenal that a deal could be possible when, after a 2-1 win over Villa on Wednesday night in which Douglas Luiz scored direct from a corner, Edu and Douglas Luiz held an upbeat conversation. The player made it clear to Villa that he wished to leave, ostensibly with an eye on regaining his Brazil place for the World Cup. Villa’s subsequent signing of Leander Dendoncker also raised hopes at the Emirates.

But Villa were not for turning when Arsenal made their move, rejecting their final bid in the 90 minutes before the deadline. It means Arteta, whose team have made a blistering start with five straight wins, must tread a high-wire act and hope his existing midfield suffers no further setbacks. He was confident enough to sanction the loan of Ainsley Maitland-Niles to Southampton on Thursday and will have been heartened by a bright display from Albert Sambi Lokonga against Villa.

Arsenal will reassess their position in the winter, when cover in attack may also be a requirement. They prioritised a midfield recruit this time but have targets for wide positions if that need looks greater after Christmas. The Shakhtar Donetsk forward Mykhaylo Mudryk was among those whose situation they explored, although no offer was made, and they will continue to monitor the 21-year-old. Mudryk was the subject of renewed attempts from long-term admirers Brentford, who would have paid a club record £26m to secure him but Shakhtar were unwilling to do a deal.

The highest-profile departure from Arsenal on deadline day was Héctor Bellerín, who has rejoined Barcelona on a free. Bellerín joined Arsenal’s academy from the Catalan club in 2011 but has not appeared for the Gunners since May 2021 and spent last season on loan at Real Betis. The 19-year-old playmaker Miguel Azeez is also heading to Spain after agreeing a season-long loan with second-tier club UD Ibiza.