The Spaniards' summer signing from Porto will link up with los Blancos after Copa America commitments with Brazil, and Portuguese football expert Tom Kundert says there's a lot to look forward to...
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- Date of birth: July 15, 1991
- Place of birth: Bicas, Brazil
- Position: Right-back
- Height: 6ft 0in
- Club: Porto (Real Madrid from July 1) (136 apps, 12 goals)
- Former club(s): Santos, America (MG)
- International: Brazil (14 caps, 0 goals)
Brazilian right-back Danilo bucked FC Porto’s 'buy cheap, sell expensive' template when the Portuguese club splashed out €13 million for the Santos player in 2012, the second-highest fee the club have ever paid for a player (surpassed only by the acquisition of compatriot Hulk).
After a few months in Portugal, there were plenty of questions about whether it was money well spent. Injuries, doubts about his best position and tactical deficiencies all held him back initially. Danilo himself needed convincing that he should focus on improving himself as a full-back instead of a role higher up the pitch. Fortunately he did just that, developing year on year, and truly exploding in 2014/15 with a magnificent season. Big advances in his defensive game, positional sense and decision-making were all in evidence. Throw in his enviable physical prowess and the innate predilection of Brazilian full-backs to bomb forward with flair and finesse, and Danilo has become a complete modern-day full-back.
Real Madrid were convinced, paying €31.5 million to take him to the Spanish capital and definitively end arguments about whether Porto had invested wisely when paying big money for Danilo three years ago.
Why you need to know him
Watching Danilo motor up and down the right flank from minute one to minute 90 can by a dizzying experience. Displaying an unimpeachable degree of commitment in every minute of every match, the Brazilian's selfless attitude was especially evident after his transfer to Real Madrid had been tied up two months before the end of the season. Fears that he would take his foot off the pedal were soon allayed as he accentuated his standing as Porto’s most dynamic player in the remainder of the season.
By the end of the campaign he had become Porto’s captain, and in many ways the team’s leader. It was fitting that he scored the Dragons’ final goal of the season with practically the last kick of the game against Penafiel to say goodbye to the Porto fans at the Estádio do Dragão.
Danilo’s tireless running may be his most striking feature, but what makes him an elite player is the fact he blends incredible work-rate with excellent technique and football intelligence, as attested by his willingness to absorb the teachings of his coaches. In his three years in Portugal his development was noticeable as he learned to choose the right option at the right time.
His marvellous right foot is equally capable of authoring a pinpoint cross, an accurate pass long or short, or a clinical finish – Danilo netted seven goals in 41 appearances last season. Oh, and his 'weaker' left foot isn’t bad either, as evidenced by his stunning strike against Rio Ave in November.
It often feels like the only thing that can stop Danilo is him getting hurt, and the Brazilian’s no-holds-barred approach has led to several injuries in his time at Porto. As for his playing characteristics, the all-round improvement in his game has been so striking it's difficult to point out any obvious weakness, and if one exists you wouldn’t put it past him ironing it out.
Former manager at Porto, Vítor Pereira, said: “He had the talent you need and an enormous thirst to learn, and Porto created the conditions for him to develop. I’m not in the least surprised he’s going to Real Madrid.” Brazil manager Dunga affirmed: “He’s a force of nature and his vast amounts of energy and commitment rub off on his team-mates.”
Did you know?
Danilo’s performances at right-back early in his Porto career drew criticism. His natural inclination to join the attack, coupled with the fact that Barcelona’s Dani Alves was considered the world’s best right-back at the time, convinced Danilo he would be better off changing his position and he tried to persuade the then-Porto coach Pereira to let him play in midfield.
- Shooting 8
- Heading 6
- Passing 8
- Tackling 7
- Pace 7
- Dribbling 6
- Creativity 7
- Work-rate 9
“Danilo, if you want to be a midfielder you can be, but you’ll be like dozens of others. As a full-back, though, you can be among the very best,” was his manager's response. He was right.
What happens next?
As he prepares for the next stage of his club career at the very peak with Real Madrid, Danilo will now be keen to prove that he is Brazil’s No.1 right-back. The Copa America is the perfect stage for him to demonstrate that the 2014 World Cup hosts made a crass mistake in selecting Maicon over him during their ill-fated tournament.