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Douglas Luiz grew up admiring Ronaldinho, now he is lighting up Aston Villa’s season

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douglas luiz grew up admiring ronaldinho now he is lighting up aston villas season

Douglas Luiz bursts out laughing when he recalls the moment he briefly stopped being a footballer and turned into a rock star.

The Brazilian midfielder had just equalised for Aston Villa in a tense relegation clash against Watford in January and celebrated by launching himself into the Holte End in the style of Damon Albarn at the height of Blur’s fame — nearly injuring himself in the process.

Perhaps wisely, Luiz decided not to mention his near-miss to his manager, Dean Smith, who has never known until now how close he came to losing a key player for a significant period.

Douglas Luiz has been impressive for an Aston Villa side who have started the season very well

Douglas Luiz has been impressive for an Aston Villa side who have started the season very well

Douglas Luiz has been impressive for an Aston Villa side who have started the season very well

Luiz nearly injured when celebrating an equaliser he scored against Watford last season

Luiz nearly injured when celebrating an equaliser he scored against Watford last season

Luiz nearly injured when celebrating an equaliser he scored against Watford last season

‘When I dived into the crowd I managed to hit my back on one of the metal barriers,’ Luiz remembers. ‘At first, when emotions were running high, I didn’t feel any pain, but when we came off the pitch at full time I really started to notice it.

‘I didn’t tell the manager, though. I kept that one to myself. It was probably my most emotional moment at the club — a crazy incident but crazy in a really good and satisfying way.’

Luiz would have done himself considerably more damage had he repeated the trick during one of the most memorable matches in Villa’s recent history — the 7-2 win over Liverpool on October 4, played before rows of empty seats at Villa Park.

Luckily, the 22-year-old was happy to settle for dominating midfield as Smith’s side embarrassed the champions in a display that was unrecognisable from many of those Villa produced last season, when they avoided relegation by a single point.

Luiz dominated midfield as Villa secured a hugely impressive 7-2 victory against Liverpool

Luiz dominated midfield as Villa secured a hugely impressive 7-2 victory against Liverpool

Luiz dominated midfield as Villa secured a hugely impressive 7-2 victory against Liverpool

Luiz has been at the heart of that improvement. Regularly the best player in training despite a slow start to his career in the West Midlands, since lockdown he has transferred those performances from the practice pitches at Bodymoor Heath to those of the Premier League.

Though his English remains a work in progress — this interview is conducted with the help of a translator — Luiz is starting to become fluent in the language of English football.

‘Lockdown served as a period of reflection for us to look back at our mistakes,’ he said. ‘The period just before that was a difficult time for us. We were lost. So the mental aspect of being able to reflect on our errors was very important. 

‘When I arrived at the club I had only a couple of days before I started playing, so I didn’t have time to train regularly with the group or adapt to the players and find out what they were about. 

The 22-year-old revealed that lockdown helped him greatly as was able to build up his fitness

The 22-year-old revealed that lockdown helped him greatly as was able to build up his fitness

The 22-year-old revealed that lockdown helped him greatly as was able to build up his fitness

In addition to featuring for Brazil, Luiz's progress is likely to see him earn a new Villa contract

In addition to featuring for Brazil, Luiz's progress is likely to see him earn a new Villa contract

In addition to featuring for Brazil, Luiz’s progress is likely to see him earn a new Villa contract

‘In lockdown I was able to do a lot of fitness work and that’s what allowed me to get to the level I’m at now. I’m very happy that I helped Villa stay in the Premier League and now it’s time to prove we deserve to stay here. The Liverpool game was a wonderful night — a great team performance. I think everyone played really well.

‘Last season we were unlucky at times against some of the top teams, so it was a nice feeling to beat one of them. Liverpool are an outstanding team, so it was a magnificent achievement for us.’

A new contract is surely imminent for Luiz, who moved to Villa from Manchester City 14 months ago. City have a buy-back arrangement which is likely to be removed as part of any new deal.

Luiz’s rapid progress has been noted in his own country, too, where he hopes to follow a fine modern tradition of holding midfielders which includes World Cup-winning captain Dunga, Fabio Capello favourite Emerson Ferreira and Arsenal ‘Invincible’ Gilberto Silva.

Even though he plays in a different position, Luiz loved to watch fellow Brazilian Ronaldinho

Even though he plays in a different position, Luiz loved to watch fellow Brazilian Ronaldinho

Even though he plays in a different position, Luiz loved to watch fellow Brazilian Ronaldinho

He was Brazil’s first choice in the role for their recent World Cup qualifiers against Bolivia and Peru and played the full 90 minutes in those victories.

Growing up, however, Luiz was drawn to a player who operates far closer to the opponent’s goal, and whose alegria (meaning joy or happiness in Portuguese) on the pitch reminds him of Villa skipper Jack Grealish.

‘I play a bit differently to the player I loved to watch — Ronaldinho,’ he says. ‘I watched him when he was at Barcelona and in the national team, and it was the way he played the game, his essence, the joy he brought to the stage. He was my idol.

Luiz stated that his team-mate Jack Grealish has elements of Brazilian football in his game

Luiz stated that his team-mate Jack Grealish has elements of Brazilian football in his game

Luiz stated that his team-mate Jack Grealish has elements of Brazilian football in his game

‘Jack certainly has elements of Brazilian football to his game. He likes to show off his skills, he is joyful on the pitch, he is quick, he can dribble, so he is a very important player and he will continue to develop.

‘With Jack signing a new contract and players like Ross Barkley and Emiliano Martinez joining the club, we are clearly developing every season, getting better and bringing in international players.

‘Unfortunately I play in a different position to Ronaldinho and Jack, and in my role it’s hard to be joyful all the time.

‘You have to be more serious but I do try to let that ray of sunshine come on to the pitch.’

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Arsenal’s ‘top contract negotiator Huss Fahny AXED’

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Arsenal‘s top negotiator Huss Fahmy has reportedly become the latest high profile staff member to agree his exit from the club as they continue ‘significant restructuring’ behind the scenes.   

Fahmy has been working as the club’s head of football operations and part of his job role saw him assist with completing contracts and liaising with agents.

The Athletic report that Fahmy will leave at the end of next month after completing a handover as the club continue to overhaul their structure behind the scenes. 

Huss Fahny (right), Arsenal's contract negotiator, is reportedly set to depart the club

Huss Fahny (right), Arsenal's contract negotiator, is reportedly set to depart the club

Huss Fahny (right), Arsenal’s contract negotiator, is reportedly set to depart the club

Back in August, Sportsmail revealed that Arsenal’s famed global scout Francis Cagigao – the man who discovered Cesc Fabregas – was among the victims of the club’s redundancy cull.

Just days after their euphoric FA Cup victory over Chelsea, the Gunners confirmed the hugely disappointing news that 55 members of staff were to lose their jobs as part of a restructuring due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Cagigao’s departure was swiftly followed by head of football Raul Sanllehi with managing director Vinai Venkatesham replacing him in the role. 

Arsenal's head of football Raul Sanllehi made a surprise exit from the club back in August

Arsenal's head of football Raul Sanllehi made a surprise exit from the club back in August

Arsenal’s head of football Raul Sanllehi made a surprise exit from the club back in August

Managing director Vinai Venkatesham now leads the club forward after Sanllehi's exit

Managing director Vinai Venkatesham now leads the club forward after Sanllehi's exit

Managing director Vinai Venkatesham now leads the club forward after Sanllehi’s exit

Sanllehi joined the Premier League side in February 2018, having previously worked at Barcelona. 

Head of UK scouting Peter Clark along with scout Brian McDermott also departed over the summer, as did first-team rehabilitation co-ordinator Tim Parham. 

The restructuring behind the scenes means that boss Mikel Arteta is closely assisted by Venkatesham and technical director Edu. 

Fahny was tasked with contract negotiation but it is expected Edu will take control of these proceedings, even with the Athletic reporting the club are planning to replace Fahmy.   

Arsenal technical director Edu is widely expected to take some of Fahmy's responsibilities

Arsenal technical director Edu is widely expected to take some of Fahmy's responsibilities

Arsenal technical director Edu is widely expected to take some of Fahmy’s responsibilities 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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England’s away UEFA Nations League clash against Belgium moved from Brussels due to 10pm curfew

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englands away uefa nations league clash against belgium moved from brussels due to 10pm curfew

England’s UEFA Nations League encounter against Belgium has officially been moved to Leuven due to the 10pm curfew restrictions in Brussels amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Gareth Southgate‘s Three Lions take on Belgium away in the Nations League on November 15, three days after facing the Republic of Ireland in a friendly at Wembley.

But the Belgium clash has been changed from its original venue in the country’s capital – which has a curfew of 10pm to 6am – at the King Baudouin stadium to Den Dreef in Leuven. It is around a 45-minute drive to Leuven from Brussels.

England's UEFA Nations League clash vs Belgium has been moved to Leuven from Brussels

England's UEFA Nations League clash vs Belgium has been moved to Leuven from Brussels

England’s UEFA Nations League clash vs Belgium has been moved to Leuven from Brussels

A statement from the country’s governing body read: ‘The Belgian FA was forced to change the venue for these games as a consequence of the Covid-19 related curfew in Brussels, which starts at 10pm local time. 

‘With a match kicking off at 8.45pm local time this would be impossible to meet.

‘Therefore the FA opted for Leuven which also hosts Belgium’s U21 and women’s internationals. In Flanders curfew starts at midnight to 5am.’ 

Roberto Martinez’s Belgium outfit will now play three matches next month in Leuven – the first time they have played outside of Brussels for three years.

Leuven's Den Dreef stadium will now host the Nations League encounter on November 15

Leuven's Den Dreef stadium will now host the Nations League encounter on November 15

Leuven’s Den Dreef stadium will now host the Nations League encounter on November 15 

Belgium will take on Switzerland in a friendly in Leuven on November 11 before hosting England and Denmark in the Nations League.

The Red Devils will be desperate to get their revenge over England after their narrow 2-1 defeat at Wembley on October 11.

The Three Lions went a goal behind following a penalty from Inter Milan striker and former Manchester United star Romelu Lukaku.

But England turned the game on its head thanks to a Marcus Rashford penalty and a deflected Mason Mount strike in the 64th minute.

However, England were then defeated in their next match against Denmark after Harry Maguire’s early red card cost the Three Lions at Wembley – with Christian Eriksen going on to seal a 1-0 win from the penalty spot.

Southgate’s side currently sit third in their Nations League group on seven points behind Denmark on goal difference while Belgium are top with nine.

It will be the first time in three years that Belgium have played outside of Brussels

It will be the first time in three years that Belgium have played outside of Brussels

It will be the first time in three years that Belgium have played outside of Brussels

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Man Utd news LIVE: Nobby Stiles tributes pour in after 1968 legend dies aged 78

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man utd news live nobby stiles tributes pour in after 1968 legend dies aged 78
telles romero

MANCHESTER UNITED is in mourning after the death of legendary midfielder Nobby Stiles.

The 1968 European champion and 1966 World Cup winner has passed away at the age of 78.

Follow ALL of the latest United transfer gossip and news below…

This post first appeared on thesun.co.uk

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