Manchester United: “His biggest challenge will be to adapt to egos” … Danilo Pereira, leader in unknown land

Danilo Pereira – Armando Franca / AP / SIPA

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  • Danilo Pereira arrived on loan from FC Porto
  • The Portuguese will have the mission to densify the Parisian environment in defense
  • Those who knew him see him as a born leader

Paris dreams always bigger. After Neymar and Mbappé, now the PSG starts to recruit a manga hero. Because you should know that in the microcosm of social networks, Danilo Pereira, has a nickname: “black Saitama” named after the protagonist of the famous manga
One punch man, an invincible type who blows up all his enemies in one hit. The same oval face, the same smooth, expressionless features and the same discrepancy between what the man gives off and what he is on the battlefield.

“It is true that he has this youthful face, very nice, while on the field I remember a player who is already very physical and a brawler in the good sense of the word”, smiles Ricardo Faty again. known the Portuguese international, only 19 at the time, at Aris Salonika. “For a coach, he’s the perfect player,” says Victor Barruncho, his youth coach at Estoril. In the field, he is as much a hard worker as a leader. Outside, he’s a very polite and affable boy, very easy-going. “

Danilo will a priori make more waves at the Parc des Princes than during the party nights of Neymar and Icardi, but all is not rosy either. His last year in Porto was notably marked by mixed relations with Sergio Conceição, the consequences of a heated exchange around a banal team dinner during a pre-season camp in the summer of 2019.

We give it to you in rapid advance. The former Nantes coach has been expected at the table for half an hour when his midfielder and captain decides to take news by text. “We’re still going to be a little late”. You should know that Porto, a good old-fashioned club, forbids its players to start eating in the absence of the coach. In short, Danilo splits a “you could have warned” which completely twists the friend Sérgio, who calls an emergency meeting on his arrival and goes so far as to treat his player as a “shit captain” in front of the whole crowd. ‘team. Vexed, the player will leave the camp by making his armband available.

A leader’s aura “that inspires respect”

He will eventually get it back with divine intervention from President Pinto da Costa, but the truth is that the defensive midfielder never really needed a piece of cloth around his arm to gain respect. When he was little, his teammates saw him as the new Patrick Vieira when he imagined himself as Steven Gerrard on the grounds of Mem Martins, in the suburbs of Lisbon, where he landed accompanied by his mother at the age of eight from Guinea-Bissau. Barruncho: “He wasn’t a captain, but he had that aura of a leader that inspired respect. And then he was not afraid to take responsibility. “

“This is what made it immediately understood that we were dealing with an exceptional player, abounds Leonel Pontes, who first knew him at the U20 of Portugal – they were together finalists of the World Cup – before training him at the Maritimo four years later. He was already a player physically and technically ahead, but it was his leadership that impressed us above all. He has a strong personality without being very talkative, although he has also made progress in his communication with others. He talks more, especially to reposition his teammates thanks to his reading of the game. He jokes a little more, too. “

So many talents that the Parisian will have to make use of in his new team, where he will have to seduce a group which knows him little apart from his passages in the Champions League with Porto, “a very large club”, nevertheless recalls Ricardo Faty. “He has a linear progression, he cut his teeth as a captain there, it’s not nothing. Not nothing is not necessarily enough. Pontes: “His main challenge will be to break this barrier of the unknown and gain the confidence of teammates who don’t know him. He has a lot of character, but there he will meet world champions, Champions League winners, big egos who also like to lead. But he’s not a boy who fears pressure. “

Sentry to report

Level guarantees, Paris Saint-Germain has still known worse. Danilo Pereira’s arrival on a loan with option to buy resembles that of Florenzi: an experienced player with international references and skills sought by the new employer. Because since the time that we talk about it, we can finally say it, yes, the PSG has finally found a real 6. “It is a pure sentinel, the PSG had a hollow nose in going to seek it, applauds its former teammate in Greece. He has a style of play that inspires confidence. He is a very hardworking shadow player who will relieve the defenders. “

Tactically, he therefore prefers to evolve alone in front of the defense but also knows how to get away with a double pivot, as we have seen with Portugal against the Blues in the League of Nations. Leonel Pontes on the blackboard: “he is a player who adapts to both systems depending on the type of play of the opponent. He can play on his own in 4-3-3, he can also play in 4-2-3-1 with a midfielder who attacks more beside him. And we can even imagine him in a 3-4-3 with three central, two wingers and a more attacking midfielder. »If ever Thomas Tuchel reads us …

Can do better offensively

Let the most enthusiastic calm down, however, Leonardo did not go looking for a Thiago Motta bis. The Italian was much more gifted with the ball, even if everyone agrees that the Portuguese is far from being a branquignolle technically. Moreover, like any very good player who respects himself, he played very high on the field before going down a notch or not by turning pro. Barruncho remembers: “I used to make him play 8 or winger, he folded games on his own, eliminating several players. He was very strong in one on one. “

One punch man – Global Media Group / Sipa USA / SIPA

It is a little less true since he touches the summits where we finally see him venturing quite little into the opposing 30 meters, apart from the sets of set pieces where he excels with the head (“we have a lot worked that in Porto in recent years ”, he will say). This is the main axis of progress for Danilo even if the process is underway, according to Leonel Pontes. “The move to Porto was beneficial to him because it accustomed him to playing in a winning, domineering team, with more possession and therefore advancing on the pitch. “

In Paris, perhaps he will be able to advance even further and make use of another under-exploited weapon in his panoply. “He has a real quality of typing but does not use it often enough” regrets Faty. “Either way,” concludes Barruncho, “he’s going to be in a team where attackers and midfielders don’t like to defend very much, so he will certainly have to stay behind. But it suits him. Duels, he wins them all and that’s why he prefers to defend on his own. You will be amazed. One defense man.

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