Arsenal director Edu has received a clear assurance that he is on the right track in terms of player recruitment at the Emirates Stadium after former target Douglas Luiz received high praise from Aston Villa boss Unai Emery on Saturday. The Gunners were heavily linked with a move for Luiz last summer as they searched for a new midfielder to strengthen Mikel Arteta's playmaking options but were ultimately left empty-handed when Villa refused to let him leave.
Arsenal reportedly saw at least two high-profile bids rejected for Luiz in pre-season before waiting another six months to land Jorginho from Chelsea after missing out on the Villa man's signature in spite of their best efforts. Although the north Londoners are not exactly missing Luiz given their standing at the top of the Premier League table, his recent performances in a Villa shirt at least show that Edu deserves the credit he has received for targeting the right profile of player at Arsenal in recent months.
Luiz has arguably been one of Villa's best Players in their last few outings and managed to get himself on the scoresheet against Bournemouth on Saturday by latching onto Leon Bailey's cross to poke the ball home from close range. He was hailed by Emery after the final whistle at Villa Park, with the Spaniard underlining Luiz's importance to the side and insisting that it was arguably his finest performance of the entire campaign to date.
"Today I am very happy with Douglas Luiz, his skill, characteristic in the squad is very important," said Emery. "Every match he is very focused on how we can manage 90 minutes keeping ball possession, keeping good positioning, taking our time with our central midfielder and his characteristic is necessary in this team. Today was the match, I think, overall with the performances, was the best with us since I arrived here."
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Luiz's strong showings for Villa this season have proven Edu's transfer credentials once again, with the Arsenal director having recruited exceptionally well for the club since his arrival only a few months before Arteta took over in the dugout four years ago. He has received plenty of credit for the signings of Aaron Ramsdale, Martin Odegaard and Gabriel Jesus to name a few and has undoubtedly played a key role in helping the Gunners to return to Premier League title contention over the course of this season.
Although Edu ultimately failed to bring Luiz to the club last year, his ability to identify good Players will bode well for Arsenal in the summer, when they are likely to make another few high-profile signings as they prepare for a long-awaited return to the Champions League the following season.
He previously insisted that Arsenal's rebuilding process over the last few years is not yet done, with plenty of further investment expected to be put to good use in the near future as they look to firmly establish themselves as one of the Premier League's best clubs both on and off the pitch.
"We have a plan really in place, so we are probably in the middle of our project," Edu told Sky Sports last year. "We need to keep improving the quality in the squad. We have to make important decisions to make our squad better every year, so we have to improve, improve and improve.
"Here we have to always think about winning. I think the club was born to win things because of the size of this club and that we have to always think about winning. Every single year we have to be better, better and better."
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