Danilo – The Brazilian powerhouse that can run Arsenal’s midfield for years to come

Vineet Kumar
By Vineet Kumar
9 Min Read
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The Gunners are flying high in the league with the ownership’s persistent backing of Mikel Arteta finally paying off. The club find themselves occupying a Champions League Spot for the first time in what seems an eternity. The youth revolution seems to have finally found it’s way with players such as Odegaard, Saka, Martinelli & Emile Smith-Rowe leading the charge at the Emirates. With the team firing on all cylinders, squad depth, especially in the midfield is something that might just prove to be a cause of concern for the manager. The January transfer window is ideally a quiet one for the ‘Big 6′ clubs in the league but Arsenal might just have found the perfect reinforcement to bring into the club this winter. Let’s dive into it.

Who is Danilo?

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Brazil, a country that lives & breathes football. A country that can proudly boast of its footballing riches having produced some of the world’s greatest players spread across generations. Hailing from Salvador in Brazil, Danilo is one of the most promising young talents who is making a name for himself in the Brazilian top flight . At just 20 years of age, Danilo has already established himself as the talisman at Palmeiras.

Danilo started his professional playing career at PFC Cajazeiras, his hometown club. He grew up in a neighborhood that was rife with poverty & abysmal living conditions. His childhood struggles did not deter him from pursuing a career in football, but his family’s financial condition would not allow him to join a football academy. Ultimately, he came across a social program, appeared for their trials, managed to join the academy at Cajazeiras and has never looked back since.

Danilo is being lined up by the Gunners as a potential backup for the midfield duo of Granit Xhaka & Thomas Partey. Partey has departed on international duty to represent Ghana in the African Cup of Nations and Arsenal are running out of options in the midfield. Although the Brazilian media has widely reported that the owners of Palmeiras are reluctant to sell one of their best players in the middle of the season, a 21 million euros bid from Arsenal might just test their resolve.

Danilo – the left footed Brazilian beast:

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Danilo is a left footed box to box midfielder who can play in every possible position in the midfield. At Palmeiras, Danilo has always been deployed as a deep lying destroyer who is tasked with breaking opposition attacks & moving the ball in between the lines with pace. There’s no shame in admitting the fact that the Brazilian top flight is not the most widely viewed league in the world & so our knowledge about a particular player is very limited. But the young Brazilian has defied all odds and captured European attention at a very premature stage of his career.

Danilo has the ability of making ground breaking passes from midfield, especially to pick out forwards running past the opposition’s defensive lines. A comparison that can be cited is Pirlo’s picturesque balls over the top to pick out strikers. Although he still has a long way to go to be compared with maestros such as Andreas Pirlo, the comparisons are purely related to Danilo’s ability to thread perfect balls all across the pitch.

Another attribute that Danilo possesses is his physicality in the middle of the park. Even though Brazilians are not prominently renowned for their physicality on the pitch, Danilo is a different breed altogether. His tendency of bulldozing his way through the opposition midfield & distorting the opposition press is something which has earned laurels across the Brazilian scene. Danilo can be called a ‘Brazilian footballer with English tenacity” as his physicality is something that is not often seen in a South American footballer!

Why do the Gunners need him?

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Mikel Arteta’s squad is performing at the highest possible level and he has a settled first 11 that is hardly rotated in the Premier League. But midfield is an area where Arsenal are lacking in numbers. With Partey unavailable for the next month or so, Arteta needs to find a suitable compatriot for Xhaka in the middle of the park. Lokonga seems to be the ideal replacement for Partey but he has flattered to deceive in his debut season at the Emirates. El Neny is not an ideal player to replace Partey as he just does not seem to fit the bill for Mike Arteta & is tipped to leave the club once his contract expires in the summer. The other option is  Charlie Patino but at the age of 18 it might just be a bit it too premature for him to act as Arsenal’s midfield general just yet.

With few options in the middle of the park, Arsenal do need to solidify their backup options in the midfield. Danilo can fit the bill for the profile of a midfielder that Arteta will love to work with. A left footed ball playing midfielder who can run with the ball at his feet is exactly what the Gunners need. His distribution, tenacity, aggression & agility is something that the Gunners faithful will definitely fall in love with, remember the Brazilian DNA as well. Danilo will definitely not be a starter for the Gunners but he definitely has the potential to replace Granit Xhaka in the long term. The club captain will certainly lose his effectiveness as he gets older & the Arsenal hierarchy might be thinking long term with their approach for the Brazilian.

Denouement:

Palmeiras are a historic club who have produced Brazilian legends over the years, with Roberto Carlos being their standout product. At the age of 20, Danilo has a long way to go in his playing career. The Palmeiras ownership is seemingly reluctant to sell the Brazilian who is reportedly not desperate to leave the club in the middle of the season. But it remains to be seen whether the player will be able to resist a move to the North London Outfit. It is fairly understandable that Danilo will be looking for guaranteed playing time before making a switch to any European club, something which Arsenal may find difficult to provide. With plenty of time still left in the transfer window, it’ll be interesting to see how this story develops and  Arsenal decide in favour of bringing in the South American or not. 

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