The January transfer window was always going to be a busy 31 days for Nottingham Forest, and it took almost nine days before the first official bid was submitted.
This one, however, certainly caught me off guard, as an £18m bid was submitted for Palmeiras youngster Danilo. I didn’t expect to be writing about a second individual potentially moving over from Sao Paulo to join Cooper’s quest for Premier League survival.
The 21-year-old, who’s already won more than most players do in their entire career, only made his first team debut in Brazil’s Serie A two years ago.
Since then, he’s gone on to win two Copa Libertadores, a Copa do Brasil in 2020, as well as a Brasileiro, Paulista and Recopa Sudamericana in 2022.
Despite his young age, the confidence Danilo has on a football pitch is one of the key factors to his success. His ability to not only tackle cleverly by staying on his feet, but to come away with the ball and drive his team further up the pitch is certainly one of his best qualities – one which will have no doubt impressed Forest’s scouts.
The Brazilian plays with no fear, and has such belief in his game, it’s no surprise that he’s been an integral part of Palmeiras’ recent dominance.
The midfielder’s confidence translates across into his footwork, trusting his own ability to beat players in one-on-one scenarios quickly – a rare quality for most defensive midfielders, I think it’s safe to say. Getting out of tight spots allows his teammates to create options in forward areas and Danilo often recognises when to move the ball quickly.
If it’s goals you’re looking for, Danilo isn’t going to set the world alight in this department – his sole goal in the last Copa Libertadores was a 92nd minute equaliser from a corner against fellow Brazilian giants Atletico-MG.
However, Danilo’s job isn’t to score, it’s all about transitioning the play – and it’s one he excels at.
It’s no real surprise to see the first £18m bid reportedly rejected, but it won’t be a surprise to see Forest persist in their bid to land the talented youngster.
So, if Danilo is to sign on the dotted line, where does he fit in at Forest?
As I pointed out when discussing Scarpa’s move to Forest, Palmeiras have favoured a 4-5-1 formation over the past few years. Danilo slots in as a defensive midfielder, predominantly on the right-hand side.
With Cooper switching to a back four after conceding too many goals at the start of the campaign, the Welshman regularly selects two, or three, defensively minded players, leaving the attacking players to counter when back in possession.
Mangala, Freuler and Yates have all impressed as a collective, but it’s fair to say they all share similar qualities – which is why Cooper was keen to start Cheikhou Kouyate until his recent injury suffered at the World Cup.
With Kouyate joining a long line of injuries at present, Forest lost their ball carrying midfielder. Not many envisioned Kouyate to be a regular for the Reds when first signing, but Cooper soon realised the qualities the Senegalese midfielder possessed. He needed a dependable midfielder who could not only turn over a ball back in his teams favour, but to help push the rest of the players further up the field.
This is Danilo’s bread and butter.
The 21-year-old has natural ability to pick up loose balls, often using his frame to wrap his legs around attacking players to win the ball back fairly before carrying the ball and releasing wingers or attacking players.
Palmeiras’ success in recent years has come from punishing teams with quick turnovers and counter attacking football – this is what Forest fans are starting to see with their newly formed side. It was evident to see with Taiwo Awoniyi’s goal against Southampton, as well as the chances created against Chelsea in the first half on New Year’s Day.
At such a young age, it’s great to see Forest thinking long term and looking at what Danilo can bring to the current squad. He’s young, has a good footballing brain and having experienced plenty of high-profile games over the last two years, he isn’t going to be fearful of the Premier League, if that is to be his next step.
It’s a really exciting, well thought out move in the market by Forest – and one which can hopefully be viewed positively by fans, who have already been impressed with Gustavo Scarpa’s early contribution.
Hopefully his former teammate can play a part in the deal and convince Danilo the banks of the Trent will be the best place for him to progress under Cooper’s popular management style.
*Article provided by Nathan Joyes (Nottingham Forest Correspondent).
*Main image @NFFC Danilo is a talented centre midfielder currently at Palmerias.