PREMIER LEAGUE

Pep rues losing Douglas Luiz over work permit issues

Douglas Luiz left Manchester City after work permit issues hampered his progress, but Pep Guardiola has no doubts over his quality.

Douglas Luiz had the quality to play for Manchester City - Guardiola

Pep Guardiola believes Aston Villa midfielder Douglas Luiz had the quality to play for Manchester City, who were frustrated previously in their efforts to secure a work permit for the Brazilian.

Douglas Luiz was on City's books from 2017 to 2019 but was forced to go out on loan to Girona in consecutive seasons before sealing a reported £15 million switch to Villa.

Guardiola spoke of his disappointment at failing to get the midfielder a permit in 2018, when City were short on options to cover Fernandinho.

The Premier League champions have since signed Rodri, although he is out injured, and Guardiola suggested there could still be the option for Douglas Luiz to return to City in the future.

"He would be here if the work permit had been possible," Guardiola said of Douglas Luiz ahead of City's meeting with Villa.

"The work permit was not possible, so loan, loan, and now he's at Aston Villa. I think we have an option to bring him back.

"But sometimes life is like this. We wanted him because in the last season we had a problem in that position because we didn't buy a holding midfielder in the last three or four seasons.

"Douglas Luiz - we thought about that. But with the rules in England with the work permit, it was not possible. So that's why - or I think he would have been here.

"He played in the pre-season last season in the United States, and he was really good. I think he has the quality to play with us but he could not do that."

Asked for an assessment of Douglas Luiz's primitive Premier League career, which has already included two stunning goals in seven games, Guardiola replied: "The talent is always there.

"He has played some games - he didn't play other ones. We will see at the end of the season how his level is. But the quality was there and is there."

Another midfielder predictably on the agenda this week was Phil Foden, who shone after being handed a start in the Champions League against Atalanta but was later sent off.

Guardiola, who has repeatedly talked up the teenager despite his limited appearances, suggested only time on the training pitch can get Foden to the required level.

"It's training by training - 19, 20, 21, 22, 23," the City boss said. "Every season will be better. It's time, a process of time.

"It's not that I do that and tomorrow he will get it. It's being in the stadium, playing the minutes, sometimes you have to pass, sometimes you have to run, these decisions.

"It's time. At 23, he will be better than now. At 26, he will be better than at 23. He's an incredible work ethic guy. In the training sessions, he's a fighter, and the quality is there."