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Manchester City will be watching Douglas Luiz closely as they weigh up whether to bring the Aston Villa midfielder back to the Etihad as Fernandinho’s replacement, Emile Heskey exclusively tells HITC.

One of the most influential footballers in City’s 140-year history cannot keep laughing in the face of Father Time forever.

Long-serving skipper Fernandinho will have 36 candles decorating his birthday cake next May but, even after investing £62 million in Spain international Rodri, Pep Guardiola’s team are as reliant as ever on one of the Premier League’s oldest outfield players.

Every Club’s OVERRATED Player On FIFA 21

Every Club’s OVERRATED Player On FIFA 21

And while Douglas Luiz has a long way to go before he can call his fellow Brazilian an equal, Aston Villa’s action man could one day be tasked with replacing the man who makes the Man City machine tick.

The 2019 Premier League champions made sure to include a buy-back clause in Luiz’s contract when selling him to Villa in a bargain £15 million deal last year (BBC).

And Heskey believes that City will be keeping a close eye on his increasingly impressive progress at Villa Park.

“With Fernandinho at that age, (Pep) will probably be looking at that,” says Heskey, pointing out that Man City exercised another buy-back clause to re-sign Angelino as recently as 2019.

“I think they would definitely be looking at (Luiz). He had a reasonable season with Aston Villa (in 2019/20), he’s really strong as a holding midfielder. We’ve seen it (the potential to replace Fernandinho).”

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Luiz certainly shares a few similarities with his evergreen compatriot – the precision passing, the innate positional sense and a penchant for those cynical tactical fouls that have quietly become a big part of Pep’s armoury.

But is the Aston Villa number six seriously capable of matching the remarkable standards set by Fernandinho over a trophy-laden decade in English football?

“I doubt it,” Heskey adds. “But he’s only young. With younger players, it’s really good to look at the senior players because they don’t do as much running – it’s all about the positional sense.

“(Former Liverpool team-mate) Didi Hamann was fabulous about that kind of stuff. His positioning was wonderful so you didn’t really have to move!”

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