Ever since it became clear that Douglas Luiz probably isn't going to sign a new contract with Aston Villa, most supporters have come to terms with the fact that we may have seen the young Brazilian's final game in a claret and blue shirt.
That acceptance has only been solidified in recent weeks with more and more reports linking Luiz with a move away from the club. Roma appear to be the frontrunners for his signature, if reports are to be believed. AC Milan have also been linked, though these reports now appear to be false.
Either way, the question needs to be asked, is letting go of a player like Douglas Luiz a mistake for Villa? Or is this potential move simply just good business by all involved? And lastly, is there any chance that Luiz actually stays at this point? Let's jump in.
Don't look back in anger
Although a lot of fans (myself included) have already made their peace with the potential departure of Douglas Luiz, there's still this sinking feeling that we might be letting go of a future superstar.
How many times have we seen this happen in the past? A young player doesn't appear to be living up to his potential, only to make a move away and flourish at another club. Yes Idrissa Gueye, I'm looking at you!
At only 24-years-old, there's every chance that Villa fans across the globe are left wondering what could have been as Luiz goes on to become one of the world's best. Of course, there's equally just as much chance that he moves to Italy only to fade into obscurity.
Brief glimpses of brilliance have shown us that there is a very talented player in there, especially when Luiz is unleashed in his more natural position as a number 8, rather than having to fill in at defensive midfield. Unfortunately for Luiz, the club's failure to bring in reliable reinforcements in that position has meant that most of his Villa career has been spent playing out of position.
This has resulted in more than a handful of lackluster performances, which in turn has led to fan backlash from the Villa faithful. In a cruel twist of fate, it now appears that the long-standing defensive midfield problem for Villa has finally been addressed with the arrival of Boubacar Kamara.. just as Douglas Luiz enters his final year of his deal.
In truth, only time will tell if letting Luiz go now turns out to be a mistake for Villa. However, it's worth remembering there's more to this departure than just whether or not Luiz will become a top player.
Money, money, money
With Douglas Luiz now entering the final year of his contract, Villa run a very serious risk of potentially losing a valuable asset for nothing. Sure, there's a really good chance that Luiz has a great season playing just in front of Kamara if he was to stay, finally having the license to play with a bit more freedom. All that means, however, is that we could lose an even better player for even less money.
This could also result in other clubs aside from Roma and other European clubs coming in for him. If Luiz was to have a fantastic season, what's to stop fellow Premier League clubs sniffing around him? I don't know about you, dear reader, but I think I'd rather see him go to Roma for £25 Million now, than see an improved version of him go to Manchester United or Liverpool for nothing this time next year.
At the end of the day, Aston Villa is a business, and a very well-run one at that these days. So with that in mind, I can't see a world where the current Villa hierarchy don't cash-in now while they still can.
If we're being totally honest with ourselves, the move would make perfect business sense for everybody involved. Roma would finally get their man, Luiz would probably benefit from a nice little pay-rise, and Villa could reinvest the money into another player of the same ilk, or maybe somebody even better.. Conor Gallagher anybody?
One final chapter?
Now let's not rule out the third option in all of this, even if it does feel like the most unlikely. Douglas Luiz could surprise us all and put pen to paper on a brand new deal.
Let's never sell ourselves short, Aston Villa Football Club is a big attraction right now. Villa Park is sold out week after week, the club can afford to hand out competitive contracts, quality players like Coutinho and Kamara continue to arrive, and the appeal of playing under a midfield legend like Steven Gerrard is obviously a massive incentive to a lot of players. Not to mention the general appeal of the Premier League itself.
As mentioned earlier, the arrival of Boubacar Kamara may also be an incentive for Luiz. Along with the return to full fitness of Marvelous Nakamba, there's a good chance that Gerrard and his coaching team could guarantee Luiz the playing time he wants in his proper position. However, he would be competing with Jacob Ramsey and John McGinn for said position, so giving out those sorts of promises might not be fully possible.
There is of course another personal appeal to staying in B6 for Luiz in the form of fellow Aston Villa star - Alisha Lehmann. The couple's budding romance could well play a part in Luiz deciding to stick around. Obviously long-distance relationships are more than doable in this day and age, and players need to make the most of their short careers while they can.. but you just never know what the two have planned for the future. Anyway, this isn't a column about celebrity romances! Not yet anyway..
As easy as it may be to talk ourselves into Luiz staying for all the above reasons, it's difficult to shake the feeling that he would have already signed on a lot earlier than this. Especially with Emi Martinez and Matty Cash both signing big new deals earlier in the year. There's really no doubt that a contract would have already been offered, the harsh truth is that he clearly doesn't want it.
When all is said and done, there's a positive to be taken from whatever happens with Luiz in the coming weeks. Villa either have the exciting prospect of an unleashed Douglas Luiz, or the club has a little extra spending money to play with in what has already been an eventful transfer window.
There is, of course, always the chance that we look back and kick ourselves as Luiz lifts the Champions League trophy in a Real Madrid shirt five years from now. If that is indeed the case, let's just hope that our own fortunes are not too drastically far removed from such a scene, and that our own squad has benefited in some way from whoever replaces him.
Players come and go. With or without Luiz, the upcoming season looks to be an exciting one for Gerrard's claret and blue army. Up The Villa!