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Mourinho clears path to get Nakamba’s rival

JOSE MOURINHO has cleared the path for a move for Aston Villa’s Brazilian midfield enforcer, Douglas Luiz, during the January transfer window.

Luiz is considered to be the direct competition for Zimbabwe international midfielder, Marvelous Nakamba, in the Villa first team.

The Brazilian has, of late, been getting the nod ahead of Nakamba, in the Villa first XI.

But, every transfer window appears to come with a flood of articles linking the Brazilian with a move from Villa Park.

And, he has now been linked with joining Mourinho at Italian giants, AS Roma.

Italian media outlet Caciomercato reported on Saturday that Steven Nzonzi’s impending departure to Qatar would give Roma the greenlight to make a ‘‘long-awaited’’ move for Luiz.

Nzonzi’s transfer to Al Rayyan, the club James Rodriguez left Everton for last week, has been confirmed. Luiz is Roma’s top transfer target and was mentioned as a potential option in the summer but Mourinho’s side looked to have decided against making a move for the 23-year-old, in favour of Arsenal midfielder, Granit Xhaka.

The move for Xhaka never materialised, though, meaning there is a vacancy in midfield at the Stadio Olimpico. Luiz has been with Villa since 2019, when Dean Smith’s side were promoted to the English Premier League, and his impressive performances after lockdown, and last season, led to speculation that Manchester City wanted to sign the former Vasco da Gama player.

He has appeared in every Premier League game so far this season, apart from the opening day defeat to Watford, which he missed because of his involvement in the Olympics with Brazil.

Luiz took to social media, at the beginning of the month, to declare that he is ‘‘happy’’ at Villa, seemingly scotching any transfer interest in the player. However, in this game, things change very quickly. Midfield was a position in which Villa looked to have ended the summer transfer window light but the performances of youngsters Jacon Ramsey and Carney Chukwuemeka, have suggested otherwise. Luiz also has Nakamba, the injured Morgan Sanson, Marvelous Nakamba and John McGinn for competition in midfield.

Meanwhile, Villa are bracing themselves for another game without goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez after Argentina again elected to call up the keeper for their upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

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