For every Marcelo and Casemiro at Real Madrid, there’s a Danilo – a Brazilian who has failed to deliver on Porto promise to become Bernabeu boo-boy
When Real Madrid signed Porto’s Danilo Luiz with a price tag of over $30 million in 2015, expectations were high of another brilliant Brazilian in the ranks. But the reality turned out to be so different, so how did it go so wrong for the right-back?
It is already Danilo’s second season in Madrid, and the former Porto vice-captain is still a shadow of the player he once was. In 2015, 1994 World Champion Carlos Dunga described the former Santos star as the new Maicon – due to his ability to drive the ball forward with his burst of pace and strength. The 25-year-old seemed like a monster whenever he was unleashed on opposition sides.
Having shown defensive solidity and offensive efficiency in the Portuguese league as well as the Champions League – even against heavyweight oppositions such as FC Bayern – it seemed at a certain point that Danilo could be the next great Brazilian right-back, following the paths of Cafu, Maicon and Dani Alves.
When the price tag is that high, when the competitor is arguably the best right-back in the world in Dani Carvajal, and when the club is Real Madrid, then the pressure is as high as it could get. One of the explanations for Danilo’s failure to adapt after such a long time and so many chances, could be the footballer’s weak mentality.
Some players cannot cope with the pressure of being a Real Madrid footballer. It is hard to explain his sudden drop in level, because he certainly did not look such an ordinary player in Portugal. His teammate Alex Sandro, has turned into one of the best left-backs in Italy, following his transfer to Juventus. Several Portuguese journalists claimed two-years-ago that Danilo was the better of the two Brazilians, and was the ultimate leader of Porto’s backline.
As a matter of fact, Danilo is a huge liability in one-on-one duels and keeps committing defensive blunders. It is perhaps no coincidence that he is the author of two own-goals this season. In terms of offensive contribution, Danilo’s services have been very limited. His passing is often inaccurate, and his long runs usually lead to nothing but leaving spaces behind him for opponents to exploit on counter attacks.
Zidane has protected the player as much as possible, by confirming several times that Danilo has the level to succeed with the champions of Europe. But in all honesty, this is most probably the Madrid boss being a gentleman more than anything else.
Carvajal and Danilo were born in the same year, play in the same position, at the same club. But one of them is clearly far more vital than the other, for the 11-times Champions League winners.
I don’t see the Brazilian succeeding at Real Madrid. But what is sure, is that the Danilo of Porto showed enough signs to suggest he could succeed at a league with a higher level than Portugal. Perhaps a league with slower rhythm and less pressure could be the solution. A move to Italy could possibly revive the career of the man who was once deemed, as the next great Brazilian right-back and the hope of the five-times World Champions.