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Danilo and Arsenal: Why Arteta and Edu could clash over Palmeiras star

He's young, gifted and Brazilian... of course Edu fancies Danilo for Arsenal. But the question is, does the Palmeiras midfielder have what's needed for the here and now...?

It's no secret. Edu, the club's newly-promoted sporting director, wants to bring Danilo to Arsenal in 2023. After making a first enquiry during the Club World Cup. Then having an offer rejected by the Palmeiras board at the beginning of this season. There's an expectation Edu will return with a new proposal over the New Year. And with Palmeiras needing a big sale to balance the books, local sources say Danilo is a prime candidate to be cashed in.

You can understand Edu's determination to bring Danilo to London. At 20 - and just over two years into his senior career - Danilo anchors Abel Ferreira's midfield at Palmeiras. No matter the game, nor the competition, Ferreira has called on Danilo: 140 games over those two years offering those outside South America an insight into the schedule of a top pro on the continent. The amount of games a consequence of Palmeiras and Danilo's success under their Portuguese coach: two Libertadores, one Brasilero, one Copa do Brasil, one Paulista and one Recopa Sul-Americana.

This past season, by his own assessment, was a career best for Danilo. His form only reinforcing those scouting reports Edu had been tabled. A first call-up to Brazil's senior squad a further endorsement.

"The year of Palmeiras was a 10 and mine too," said Danilo this week. "It was a wonderful year. I know that all players have ups and downs, as I did. But both at the top and at the bottom, I didn't change my way of playing and training and I managed to end the year with five very good matches."

As Danilo concedes, there was a dip in form after Tite's call, something critics were keen to jump on. But the youngster, with the help Ferreira, was able to eventually shake the slump and help Palmeiras clinch the domestic title with a late season surge.

In the aftermath, the enquiries from Europe flooded in. Edu was no longer alone. Porto tried and failed with an offer. While Barcelona and AS Monaco also made approaches. Of course, the local press were across all of it, with the consensus that should Arsenal get close to Palmeiras' €25m valuation (his contract carries a €100m buyout clause) then Danilo will be on his way to London over the New Year.

Asked directly about the prospect of a Premier League move, Danilo was undaunted: "I see myself mature enough to be able to play any competition in the world, I'm ready. This is because Palmeiras helped me a lot, from the base, with the [director] João Paulo [Sampaio]. And I kept my mentality strong with the arrival of Abel.

"But I prefer not to get involved with these transfer issues. I told my manager to only talk to me if it's the right thing. Then, we'll sit and talk with Palmeiras and find what is best for everyone..."

As mentioned, should Arsenal's offer get close to Palmeiras' valuation, then what'll be ruled "best" will be Danilo's sale. At least, that will be the opinion of the board and the player. However for coach Ferreira, Danilo leaving at 20 years of age would be a mistake. The Portuguese insisting for all his progress this past year, Danilo still has much to learn.

"When they do well, on the crest of the wave, the wave takes them," says Ferreira, referring to Danilo's time with the Brazil squad. "I really enjoyed seeing the boy talking about his call-up, it was his first step. The Selecao is an acknowledgment of his work, but you need to see what brought him there.

"Nobody admits that a national team player can play poorly, but everyone will do so at some point. He'll always have my full support. I will say what they like and what they don't like to hear. It is part of football. It will do him better in the future..."

As Ferreira says, for all his talent and relative experience, Danilo is still a work in progress. And should Edu pull the trigger in January, as much Danilo insists "I'm ready", making a difference in Arsenal's title push must be questioned.

Indeed, just a week out from the World Cup break-up, Gunners manager Mikel Arteta hinted that a project player like Danilo shouldn't be the priority for the January market.

"With the position we are in right now… it demands another level of player," Arteta said. "The planning of that period is extremely difficult. First of all because we know the January window, how special it is, the opportunities that you have, the short window that you have. Once you get the player they are straight away competing, so there is not an adaption process,' Arteta said.

"And obviously with the position that we are in right now as well, it demands as well another level of player - and that player has to be available. We will look at everything and let's see what we can do."

No need to read between the lines there. And you do wonder where that will leave Danilo as Arteta and Edu discuss their market plans in the coming weeks. With the best chance of winning the Premier League in over a decade, Arsenal need to get it right come January.

In the meantime, Danilo is happy to get his head down and work. The midfielder, who's popularity has seen him launch his own line of children's products, has cut short his break to prepare for preseason, "I'm going to start even earlier, to get better."

Whether that's in preparation for the new season, or to be fit for London, time will tell. There's no questioning the attitude of Danilo. Nor the talent. But with a title to be won, is the Palmeiras midfielder what Arsenal need for the here and now?



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