Arsenal have identified Douglas Luiz as a leading transfer target as Mikel Arteta seeks to add a holding midfielder to his squad, according to reports.
He has been linked with a return to the Etihad Stadium in the past, but Arsenal are now hoping to strike a deal to sign him.
According to The Sun, Arteta has identified the centre of the park as an area that needs strengthening.
Granit Xhaka and Thomas Partey have formed his first-choice midfield partnership in recent weeks, with Albert Sambi Lokonga, Mohamed Elneny and Ainsley Maitland-Niles in reserve.
The Arsenal boss has been impressed with Douglas Luiz’s performances in the first half of the campaign.
And he could attempt to prise him away from Villa this month, particularly as Partey and Elneny have now played their last games for the club before the Africa Cup of Nations.
Maitland-Niles faces an uncertain future, meanwhile, with the 24-year-old keen to find more regular first-team football elsewhere.
Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Denis Zakaria is another possible target for the Gunners, but Douglas Luiz’s Premier League experience could give him the edge.
Arsenal are not the only club keeping tabs on the Brazilian, though, with Newcastle also thought to be keen.
He has admirers in other European countries too, and Villa could face a fight to keep hold of him.
Douglas Luiz is under contract until the summer of 2023, so he now has just 18 months remaining on his deal.
Rather than risk losing him for nothing next year, Villa could look to cash in on the midfielder ahead of next season.
Douglas Luiz is expected to start when Steven Gerrard’s side face Brentford on Sunday.
Villa could climb into the top half of the table with victory in west London.
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Greg Lea is a freelance football journalist who's filled in wherever FourFourTwo needs him since 2014. He became a Crystal Palace fan after watching a 1-0 loss to Port Vale in 1998, and once got on the scoresheet in a primary school game against Wilfried Zaha's Whitehorse Manor (an own goal in an 8-0 defeat).
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