Chelsea transfer news includes rumours of a move for Real Madrid full-back Danilo and the Spanish perspective on a possible deal.
The going has been tough for Chelsea target Danilo at Real Madrid from day one. Signed by Rafa Benitez he was immediately viewed as a threat to Dani Carvajal’s starting place.
And it turned out to be true as both Benitez – and later Zinedine Zidane – opted for the Brazilian over the returning Carvajal. This didn’t stop people magnifying every error he made as if he were some schoolboy on an apprenticeship.
While I’m first to say good performances in the Portuguese league aren’t a true indication of whether a player is destined for stardom or not, he formed a devastating duo with Alex Sandro down the flanks at Porto.
The two Brazilians were the envy of Europe and both secured moves to elite sides, Real Madrid and Juventus respectively, in the summer of 2015.
This wasn’t an impulse buy from Real Madrid. This was a logical acquisition for a team looking to improve their star-studded squad with players for the present as well as the future. People forget Danilo is still only 25.
But by the same token it would be unfair to claim his level of performances have been fantastic in Madrid. They haven’t, but nor has it been the car crash some would lead you to believe.
Danilo’s eagerness to get forward can often leave gaps in the defence when Real Madrid lose the ball. Perhaps he is guilty of failing to understand when to stay and when to go.
Danilo simply isn’t needed as much in the final third at Madrid as he was at Porto.
Then you need to factor in the defenders alongside him. Marcelo, his fellow Brazilian, has endured spells where he too was caught out on a regular basis. He adapted over time and is now one of the best full backs in the world.
Sergio Ramos, for all his goal scoring prowess, drops huge clangers in most games. The same can be said of Raphael Varane, who at least improved his positioning this year, but relied on his pace to make up for mistakes.
It’s a tough gig being part of Madrid’s defence, just ask Keylor Navas.The team is top heavy but the midfield axis of Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and most importantly Casemiro help to balance that out.
However it isn’t foolproof and when they can’t help out, someone else is left to shoulder the blame. Ramos and Marcelo get passes but Varane and Danilo? Not a chance.
Talk of Chelsea being interested in Danilo makes sense as he looks like someone who could thrive in a system which relies on its full backs to get forward and provide width.
If Conte sticks with five at the back Danilo would be free to bomb down the flank and get crosses into the box, something he does very well. It’d also relieve him of the pressure in getting back quickly, safe in the knowledge at least three others would be able to cover.
The biggest obstacle to Danilo finding his best form is recuperating his own self-belief. Maybe due to the criticism or the pressure of playing for Real Madrid he’s looked nervous out on the pitch.
Should Chelsea sign Danilo this summer?
Caught between trying to impress and trying not to make an error, he ended up somewhere in between. It limited his influence on games, particularly last year, and maybe a change of scenery would do him the world of good.
It’s worth pointing out that all three of Madrid’s league losses last season came without Danilo on the field. This came after fans labelled him a jinx for losses in the previous campaign.
Unfortunately, the negative stigma surrounding the player only serves to make the situation worse and doesn’t help Danilo play his natural game, or adapt like Marcelo did.
A switch to the Premier League would benefit all parties as it allows Real Madrid to recover most of their €31.5m outlay, it gives Chelsea a genuine full back and the player is given a fresh start.
The move from being a full back to a wing back might make Danilo an even more dangerous player too.
It’s also important that Danilo is made to feel wanted, valued and needed again. To blame Real Madrid on his failure to live up to the hype would be unfair but it’s an environment a lot of players have struggled in.
The problem is they can’t mollycoddle Danilo when they’re intent on producing their own mini era of dominance. He simply isn’t important enough.
If Chelsea do find a way to restore Danilo’s confidence and offer him that platform to perform – whilst also being able to prove his doubters wrong – they might just have found a crucial upgrade for their team ahead of a double assault on the Premier League and Champions League next season.
The concern must be if the damage already done to Danilo is irreparable – but it’s a risk worth taking