Under-appreciated by Real Madrid, but invaluable to Pep Guardiola, Danilo is enjoying life at Manchester City where his versatility has been key
When Manchester City announced the signing of Danilo for $30 million in the summer, Real Madrid fans celebrated the news whereas the fans of the English side were extremely skeptical about it.
The Brazilian left Spain after receiving heavy criticism, so it was the right of the press in England, to raise question marks over his signing. However, is it mere coincidence that top coaches like Pep Guardiola and Antonio Conte were after the services of the versatile right-back, or does it suggest that they see potential in the Brazilian, that the fans were not able to spot?
Danilo’s adventure in the English Premier League, has rather started well. As a matter of fact, the 26-year old has been involved in all four matches so far, as a starter against Brighton, Bournemouth and Liverpool, as well as coming off the bench in the home-game with Everton. Away to Bournemouth, Danilo made the decisive last-gasp assist to Raheem Sterling in order to offer City the valuable three points, but it was in the weekend against the Reds, where the Brazil international proved his real worth.
Team captain Vincent Kompany was unavailable due to injury, and instead of panicking on who would replace him, Pep Guardiola surprised everyone by putting his confidence in Danilo. After operating in his first two games as left-back, then as right-back in the third one, the time had come for the Brazilian to master another position under the hands of the Spanish tactician.
With most touches on the pitch (120), most successful passes (115) and a solid defensive performance, Guardiola’s confidence had been justified, and his gamble proved out to be a winning one, as the Citizens crushed Liverpool 5-0 in a dominant performance – helped by the sending off of Senegal international Sadio Mané, following an early challenge with goalkeeper Ederson, that resulted in a sending off.
While it is still early days to give a permanent conclusion about Danilo, what we can so far confirm is his good start to life in England, his versatility, willingness to learn and adjust his football accordingly, as well as his ambition to retrieve the glorious status he once had, during his times at Portuguese giants FC Porto, where he was the side’s second captain.
To put things into perspective, the Man City defender has pretty much succeeded in all his past experiences by winning the Libertadores with Santos, World Cup Under-20 with Brazil and the Primeira Liga with Porto.
Clearly, Danilo’s spell at Real Madrid cannot be completely considered a successful one, but at the same time, he did play a role in decisive stages of the Champions League, including the final against Atlético Madrid in 2016, where his last-man tackle denied Antoine Griezmann a one-on-one situation which could have switched the title to the other side of the Spanish capital.
For all these reasons, Danilo deserve to be given another chance by Manchester City and Seleção fans. Dani Alves is set to miss the national team’s away trip to Bolivia next month, due to suspension. With Brazil’s shortage of options at the right-back position, and following his fine start in England, will Danilo make the squad for the next World Cup qualifiers? I say yes, but we will have to wait until Tite announces his decision on Friday.