Luiz Gustavo: A Statistical Review of Arsenal’s Latest Transfer Target

One of Bayern’s unsung hero last season

Jupp Heynckes will be forever remembered in football history as he joined the elite class of football managers that achieved the unprecedented treble last season. In recent times, managers like Pep Guardiola (2009), Jose Mourinho (2010) and Andre Villas-Boas (2011) earned their places in football folklore after they achieved the treble with Barcelona, Inter Milan and FC Porto respectively.

Heynckes’ class of ’13 had a perfect blend of German efficiency, European flair and some South American magic that made his team every manager’s wet dream. Last season’s Bayern Munich squad will always fondly remembered for the goalkeeping heroics of Manuel Neuer, the sheer defensive consistent performances of Dante and Philip Lahm, the balanced midfield outings of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Javi Martinez, the flamboyant wing play of the Rob-bery combo and the amazing goal haul of Mario Mandzukic.

These players took Europe by storm by ending Borussia Dortmund’s dominance in the Bundesliga in grand style and their major highlight was the triumphant Champions League run that saw them conquer Valencia, BATE Borisov and LOSC Lille Metropole in the Group Stages before easing past Arsenal, Juventus, Barcelona and Dortmund in the knockout stages.

While Heynckes could easily count on Schweinsteiger and Martinez to play in the fulcrum of the midfield, there were times when the manager summoned the services of Luiz Gustavo, the Brazilian powerhouse with style of play that reminds me of ex-Gunner, Gilberto SIlva. In simpler terms, Luiz Gustavo was the type of player that does his “dirty work” in a very clean way and his tenacious style of play in Bayern’s midfield caught the eye last season.

The Brazilian was signed from Hoffenhiem in the winter transfer window of 2011 and he featured regularly in his first full season for the Bavarian outfit in the 2011/12 campaign (46 apps) but the big-money acquisition of Javi Martinez from Athletic Bilbao ensured that his game time diminished, as Schweinsteiger was a vital cog in the midfield engine.

Bleacher Report’s Sam Tighe shares an insight on how their double pivot works.

Bayern Munich’s successful double pivot reduced Luiz Gustavo’s playing time

Despite not being a regular in Heynckes’ first-team sheet, Luiz Gustavo’s versatility made him a valuable asset for Bayern Munich last season, as he also provided cover as a center back and a left back when the need arose. After a successful 2012/13 campaign with Bayern Munich, Luiz Gustavo was called up by Felipao in this summer’s FIFA Confederations Cup and he was an integral part of the Samba Boys squad that won the tournament in grand style following some inspired performances from Julio Cesar, Neymar and Fred.

With some assistance from stats kings like Who Scored and Squakwa, the table below shows the key performance metrics for Luiz Gustavo in the Bundesliga, UEFA Champions League and 2013 Confederations Cup.



Champions League

Confed. Cup

Appearances (Subs)

16 (6)

3 (7)

5 (0)

Goals Scored




Overall shots (Shots per Game)

13 (0.6)

9 (0.9)

2 (0.4)

Bookings (Yellow / Red)

6 / 0

2 / 0

2 / 0

Total Tackles (Tackles per Game)

54 (2.5)

15 (1.5)

10 (2)

Total Interceptions (Interceptions per Game)

33 (1.5)

13 (1.3)

15 (3)

Total Fouls Committed (Fouls per Game)

37 (1.7)

10 (1)

14 (2.8)

Aerial Duels (Attempted/Won)

36 / 16

12 / 6

6 / 5

Total Passes (Accurate Passes)

940 (874)

205 (183)

233 (214)

Pass Completion %




Total Long Balls (Accurate)

97 (82)

26 (25)

22 (20)

Total Through Balls (Accurate)

3 (2)

3 (2)



For a player that wasn’t a key part of Bayern Munich’s squad last season, Luiz Gustavo’s stats are jaw dropping to say the least. In the 2012/13 Bundesliga campaign, he amassed just 26 appearances but he managed to rake up an impressive pass completion percentage of 93 percent. He also notched up a decent amount of tackles and interceptions in each game he played and as expected from a tenacious holding midfielder like him, he had his fair share of fouls committed and bookings.

With a frame of 6′ 2″, Luiz Gustavo was also involved in some aerial battles in the middle of the park and he had close to a 50 percent success rate in the Bundesliga and Champions League but in the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup, Luiz Gustavo basically won every header he attempted which showed how he used his height to great effect for his nation.

With Schweinsteiger and Javi Martinez clearly above the Brazilian in the pecking order, his cause wasn’t helped when Pep Guardiola successfully acquired the services of Thiago Alcantara from Barcelona, a player he managed in his Barcelona B days.

Unlike Heynckes that successfully utilized the 4-2-3-1 tactical setup with Schweinsteiger and Martinez in the double pivot, Guardiola is adopting his traditional 4-3-3 formation that worked wonders for him in his Barcelona trophy hauling days. Martinez will assume the deep-lying playmaker role that was successfully manned by Sergi Busquets, Schweinsteiger / Thiago would assume the Xavi Hernandez role while the mercurial Mario Gotze, on his return from injury, would be at the tip of the midfield triumvirate (Andres Iniesta’s role).

This clearly indicates that Luiz Gustavo would be surplus to requirements and reported that German outfit, VFL Wolfsburg, are in talks to sign him from Bavaria. According to the Daily Mail, Arsenal is about to table a £14m bid for the Brazilian man-machine, after Arsene Wenger admitted that his squad is thin-bare and he wanted new reinforcements.

Unlike in Bayern Munich where Luiz Gustavo’s chances of featuring now hangs on a thin thread, it would be a different case at Arsenal but in all honesty, I don’t expect Luiz Gustavo to walk into the Arsenal first-team setup. If he arrives at the Emirates, he would be that strong enforcer in midfield the fans have been craving for since Alex Song, but Arsenal has two players that have blossomed in the holding midfield roles.

Arsenal’s fulcrum in the tail end of last season

Following the departure of Song to Barcelona, Mikel Arteta assumed the role of Arsenal’s holding midfielder, curbing his attacking instincts to take one for the team and Arsenal fans can attest that he was a revelation last season. After playing as a jack-of-all-trades yet being of none, Arsene Wenger finally gave Aaron Ramsey a chance to strut his stuff in central midfield and his energy and work rate aided his team’s surge to a fourth place finish in the last campaign.

I’m going to juxtapose between Luiz Gustavo’s key performance metrics and  Arsenal’s personnel in the successful double midfield pivot of last season, Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta. I’ll also cull some stats from Who Scored for both players.

According to Who Scored, listed below are Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta’s stats in the Premier League last season.


Mikel Arteta

Aaron Ramsey

Appearances (Subs)

34 (0)

21 (15)

Goals Scored






Overall shots (Shots per Game)

19 (0.6)

46 (1.3)

Bookings (Yellow / Red)

6 / 0

5 / 0

Total Tackles (Tackles per Game)

108 (3.2)

71 (2)

Total Interceptions (Interceptions per Game)

97 (2.7)

44 (1.2)

Total Fouls Committed (Fouls per Game)

74 (2.2)

48 (1.3)

Aerial Duels (Attempted/Won)

67 / 35

37 / 14

Total Passes (Accurate Passes)

2750 (2517)

1934 (1705)

Pass Completion %



Total Long Balls (Accurate)

205 (179)

139 (103)

Total Through Balls (Accurate)

15 (6)

21 (11)

Unlike Luiz Gustavo that plays like a traditional water carrier in holding midfield, Arteta and Ramsey are very comfortable with the ball on their feet and it’s also worth noting that Arteta total passes (2,750) were almost three times Luiz Gustavo’s (940) despite playing in the same role with the Brazilian.

In Gustavo’s defense, Arteta played more games than the Brazilian with age slowly creeping in on the Lego-haired Spaniard, Gustavo can come into the club and he would definitely be touted as Arteta’s long-term successor. At the age of 26, Luiz Gustavo’s best years are well ahead of him unlike Arteta that probably has two or so years left in him before he decides to end his playing days in his native Spain or maybe the MLS to earn some big bucks.

Even if everybody is firmly focused on Luis Suarez and his transfer shenanigans, Arsenal’s pursuit of Luiz Gustavo is a stroke of genius by Arsene Wenger.


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About enigma106

An Arsenal fan with a good sense of humor

Posted on August 12, 2013, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Transfer Gossip and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Arsenal would be dangerous with the tw Luizs. If only they would materalize

  2. The gunners main problem is the striking force than what we are seeing, we need sparkling goal scores like luis suarez to break defence of any club were facing in games. let push more with the clause on liverpool and Suarez deal and see how his signature into arsenal.

  3. Men, Gustvo’s signings will really give us some strength coz he is some1 who wants to play; so he can go 45 matches in a season or even 50 and he looks consistent( our new Gilberto silva)

  4. awesome article! I think Gustavo would boost our mid. Will it happened? I think not because at the moment Arsenal is looking at the Lopez who is on trial and playing the same mid.-def. role. Will probably get one of them. Also not sure of his 14M price Arsenal is willing to offer, i mean would this be enough

  5. wenger should by all means sign Suarez before the closin date

  6. Reblogged this on deanomartins's Blog and commented:
    I’m not sure if his stats fully show who he is, but certainly a great acquisition..

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