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Danilo: The Brazilian who’s ready to fight for Forest’s Premier League survival

Many Nottingham Forest fans were excited when the club announced the signing of Palmerias’ Danilo on a six-year deal. It’s safe to say not many knew much about him, but having won everything he possibly could in Brazil, there was reason for optimism.

Forest fans haven’t had the luxury of signing big names for over two decades, and with Danilo previously linked with Arsenal, fans were intrigued to see him in the Garibaldi.

Unfortunately for the midfielder his chances have been rather limited under Steve Cooper. The Welshman arguably wanted his Brazilian to settle into life in both Nottingham and the Premier League, but time is something Forest do not have.

Patience required from the former Palmeiras player

The 21-year-old made his debut away to Bournemouth on 21st January, a far cry from his usual surroundings in Feira Nova. Yet his debut was a successful one as Forest fought back from a goal deficit to earn a hard-earned point, which could be crucial come the end of the season.

Having only been in the country a matter of days, Danilo slotted into Forest’s midfielder with ease. A near 60-minute performance against Manchester United in the League Cup four days later followed, and once again the Brazilian impressed.

Despite Forest losing 3-0, Danilo was the one who started the attack which saw Sam Surridge slot the ball home, before VAR denied the home side their equaliser.

It was a glimpse of Danilo’s ability to turnover possession into quick attacks, something Palmeiras fans have been fortunate to watch for the past two seasons.

A disappointing 45 minutes against Leeds at home saw the young Brazilian hooked at half-time, although it was a game in which plenty on the pitch underperformed in the first half and perhaps Danilo was unfortunate to be the one sacrificed.

Another hour in the tank at the City Ground at home to Manchester City saw Danilo maintain his unbeaten record in the Premier League when featuring, as Forest famously held Pep’s team to a 1-1 draw.

Despite his cameo appearances, Danilo was an unused substitute in three of the next four matches, failing to make the bench against Everton.

Rejuvenated on his reappearance

Having watched his team lose all three of those matches from the bench, Steve Cooper had little choice but to shake his midfield up and the Brazilian returned to the starting eleven for his first match since mid-February against Wolves at the weekend.

His energetic display, which saw him assist Brennan Johnson’s eighth goal of the season, certainly caught the eye.

If anything it left Forest fans bewildered as to why their big money signing hasn’t been rewarded with opportunities, with Cooper preferring the likes of Jack Colback and Jonjo Shelvey in recent weeks.

Danilo was certainly out to prove a point, and where Forest have lacked creativity in their midfield away from Morgan Gibbs-White and Brennan Johnson, Danilo was a breath of fresh air in the heart of the action.

With Orel Mangala and Remo Freuler protecting the backline, Danilo was able to bridge the gap between the midfield and attack, something Forest have lacked for large parts of the season.

The missing piece?

Time and time again for Palmeiras, Danilo excelled with his ability to win the ball back for his team and have the confidence to carry the ball forward as well as the urgency to release his teammates in attacking positions.

He may not be able to speak the language yet, but the young prospect played in a similar 4-5-1 formation at Palmeiras which has helped him adapt to the life at Forest.

He understands his role and with Forest proving to be more lethal on the break, Danilo has the perfect skillset required in the club’s current situation.

At this stage of the season, confidence within those who feature is key. Both Cooper and Forest have been criticised for not being adventurous enough at times, but Danilo’s performance against Wolves may have shown that his spark is what they so desperately crave in order to get them over the line come May.

With numerous injuries to contend with, Cooper’s hands are tied to a certain extent.

However, if he’s going to keep Nottingham Forest in the Premier League, more faith may need to be shown in his young Brazilian in order to pull away from the bottom three.


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