Brazil has never been short of wonder kids, and Danilo Pereira is the latest one making waves in Europe. The striker, who moved from Santos to Ajax in 2018, has been sensational in Eredivise this season. The Brazilian is on loan at FC Twente and has already racked up eight goals in eight games, leaving him as the top scorer in the Dutch top-flight.
Danilo is already looking like a real prospect despite playing only his first full season in the Eredivise. The Brazilian, who was linked with a move to Tottenham Hotspur during the transfer window, is far from the finished product. Here we take a closer look at potentially the next great Ajax talent who is ready to European football by storm.
Danilo: The Ajax Striker from Brazil Making Waves in the Netherlands
Danilo was born on April 7, 1999, in one of Sao Paulo’s most dangerous and poorest areas, Corinthians-Itaquera favela. The Brazilian started showing signs of his talent at a very early age and joined the Portuguesa academy at the age of six. Despite his poor surroundings, the striker managed to make a name for himself as a talent to look out for and eventually joined the academy of Brazilian giants Corinthians in 2010. Four years later, Danilo moved to Ponte Preta and later to Vasco Da Gama before moving to the Sao Paolo academy in 2016.
It was during his time in Sao Paolo that the young Brazilian caught the eye of Dutch giants, Ajax. The Brazilian, upon knowing about Ajax’s interest in him, moved to the club in 2017, signing a five-year contract. Initially playing in the U19s side, the Brazilian instantly showcased his talents and quickly moved into Ajax’s reserve side, Jong Ajax, in 2018.
He made his professional debut in 2018 for Jong Ajax but had to wait almost half a season to get regular game time in the reserve side. The 2018/19 season saw Danilo getting his big break as he scored an impressive 19 goals in 33 appearances for Jong Ajax. The move earned him a spot in the Ajax first-team squad before eventually making his debut for the senior team last season. With limited first-team minutes on offer, the Brazilian moved to FC Twente on loan at the start of this season.
Danilo has relatively been a late developer compared to the other players in his age group. Despite moving to Europe as a teenager, the striker has rarely played top-tier football. The huge talent pool at Ajax meant that Danilo got fewer chances to feature in the first-team. It took almost two years for the striker to get his chance to play for the senior team. But, a hamstring injury and the pandemic resulted in the Brazilian getting limited time last season.
This season, Danilo has started with a bang. The striker has scored eight goals and made four assist in eight matches. Danilo has never been short on goal in his short career. The Brazilian’s goalscoring prowess has never been in doubt. According to transfermarkt.com, The striker scored 16 goals in 22 appearances for Ajax U19 side in his first season in Europe. He bettered the stats the following season with 19 goals in 33 appearances for Jong Ajax. He ended the season as the fourth-highest goalscorer in the Eerste Divisie.
The last season, though, Danilo rarely featured as the striker missed quite a few games with a hamstring injury. Still, the Brazilian managed six goals in 11 appearances – including his first European goal in the Europa League. So, it’s been not very surprising to see Danilo amongst the goals in Eredivisie.
A closer look reveals Danilo’s dependence on his right foot to score. The Brazilian has scored more than 60% of his goals in Jong Ajax and U21 side with his right foot. He has also shown an eye for the long-rangers and looks good in dead ball situations.
Danilo has continued his goalscoring form into the senior side. The Brazilian has been the star performer for FC Twente since his move.
According to Whoscored.com, Danilo has averaged 3.1 shots per game this season, a total of 25 shots in eight matches. Of the 25 shots, 13 have been on target, and eight of them have resulted in a goal, roughly a 60% conversion rate. The most eye-catching factor, though, has been his lack of shots from inside the six-yard box. He has made just three shots from that range, with only one of them resulting in a goal. Meanwhile, he has two goals from outside the box. It may be early years, but the Brazilian’s poaching skills look like something that he needs to work on.
Another glaring area that needs improvement is Danilo’s aerial ability. The Brazilian is not giant, but still, he has very poor returns in the aerial department for a striker. Danilo has won just seven of the 21 aerial duels he has contested, which is about 0.9 wins per game. His aerial drawbacks have seen the striker scoring a minimal number of headed goals, in his career.
Apart from his shooting skills, Danilo is also a good dribbler. He has averaged 1.4 successful dribbles per game and looks good on the front foot. But, his passing is something that looks a bit off considering his talent in the other aspects of the game. Despite being one of the leading assist makers in the league, Danilo has averaged just 1.3 key passes per game along with an average of 24.1 passes per match. His pass success percentage is also not too good with just 73.6%. His fondness for short passes has seen him make 140 of them but has also seen his miss 46.
Danilo is looking really like a player for the future. His shooting skills and fondness for taking long-range efforts and innate goalscoring ability make him one of the many top prospects in the Ajax squad. But, there a couple of areas he needs to work on to make it big on the European stage. His aerial abilities and usage of the weaker foot are some of the key areas that need major improvements.