The signing of Danilo was greeted with fanfare last summer but his debut campaign for Rangers was prematurely ended after he suffered a serious knee injury at Tynecastle. The striker has spent recent months working through his rehabilitation programme and this season represents his second chance to make an impression at Ibrox.

Philippe Clement only saw glimpses of what the Brazilian was capable of and his absence was noticeable as Rangers were left with only the League Cup at the end of the campaign. Danilo will be given time to get back up to speed this term but there is no doubt that he needs to play an integral role for Clement's side during their bid for domestic honours and European expedition. 

The Rangers Review first released this interview in August. We have now republished it as Danilo gears up for the new campaign. Once again, there is an expectation amongst the support.

Rarely in recent memory has a signing fostered excitement at Ibrox quite like Danilo’s last summer.

His profile, a Brazillian No.9 with a strong track record in the Eredivisie featuring two league titles, captures the imagination. Spells with Ajax, Feyenoord and FC Twente precede his move to Glasgow.

Last summer, the Rangers Review caught up with someone who’s better placed than most to offer an insight into Danilo’s game, his former FC Twente manager Ron Jans.

Danilo’s breakthrough as a player came at Twente in the 2020/21 season. Having arrived at Ajax two years earlier and excelled in their second team, Jong Ajax, it was a loan spell under Jans’ tutelage that would announce his potential as a player.

“Danilo came quite late in August, I think two or three weeks after the season started. It was the season after the Covid-19 outbreak and from day one he was our missing piece,” Jans says.

“We were building a new team with a lot of new players, a lot of loan deals like Danilo. The first half of the season we were pressing high and so efficient at winning the ball with the press, before scoring within a few seconds. A lot of goals were made in this way by Danilo.

“As a player, he has the ability to be so quiet in the box and around it, but he always knows where the goalkeeper is. Sometimes you can think ‘What is he trying now’ but his finishing can be so good. That first half of the season, I think it was his best period in Holland. As a person he is always cheerful, a funny guy, he was still young in his behaviour so as a professional he had to learn but I think he’s matured now. That first season at Twente was amazing.”

The Brazilian's first assignment at Ibrox will be goals, often working within limited space up against compact defences. Rangers have not signed a player who relies on transition moments but someone capable of finding the yard others can’t, a natural goalscorer with a wide skillset.

“Around the box, you have less time given the number of opponents but with Danilo you can play very good football. He’s not necessarily a one-on-one player, preferring to link play quickly with his first touch or take shots,” Jans continues.

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“Danilo prefers placement over power when it comes to shooting and he’s relatively strong on his left side too. At FC Twente, he didn’t have much of an opportunity to showcase his heading ability but that too isn’t bad considering his size.

“He can find the gaps between defenders, whether that be behind a defence or between the full-back and centre-back. Danilo is very clever in his positioning and at his best when he’s attacking these spaces.”

The pre-season goals that baited the Rangers support before Danilo's arrival were true to Jans’ judgement with placed, often curled, finishes pre-empting his signing.

Last season at Feyenoord featured plenty of examples of the attributes described. 

Take this goal against Sturm Graz. Danilo peels off the front and plays a first-time pass, allowing his side to break through the lines and work a dangerous crossing opportunity.

As Feyenoord work an overload on the far side and prepares to cross the ball, notice Danilo’s shift of weight, propelling himself backwards into the space he’s created having dragged the defence close to the touchline.

Or, take this strike against Volendam. Danilo offers a passing option through the pitch but as possession is worked wide, attacks the box. Moving towards the back stick with a 'quiet' arrival that creates an excellent shooting opportunity.

The attacker’s shot map from the 2020/21 season at Twente is attached below. With 12 goals from 12.8xG (not including six penalties), the forward was finishing at an expected rate. Notice the cluster of efforts around the penalty spot, the area Jans highlights as his most dangerous.

Following that impressive spell at Twente, Danilo returned to Ajax and saw consistent game time hard to come by, competing with Sebastian Haller for a starting slot. Featuring 13 times in the Eredivisie, scoring four in a cup game against lowly Excelsior Maassluis but never truly cementing a place.

READ MORE: Here's how Michael Beale has changed Rangers' front 3 to accommodate two No.9s

A move to Feyenoord in the summer of 2022 would follow. Although the second half of Danilo’s season was largely spent arriving from the bench, during the first number of months he kept highly-rated 22-year-old Mexican international Santiago Gimenez out of the starting 11.

“In his year at Feyenoord he started as the No.1 striker in a tremendous season,” Jans continues.

“Gimenez was behind him and it was all because of Danilo's better understanding of the press and the intensity of the press. He knows how to carry out tactical instructions and with Rangers attacking a lot, will fit in perfectly.”

Take a look at Danilo’s StatsBomb radar from that season. The percentile ratings compare his metrics against other forwards in the division and it goes without saying, the higher the better.

What is this showing you?

Clearly, Danilo’s xG, touches in the box and shots all averaged high over the course of last season. So too did the number of pressures he was attempting, and the amount of regains achieved as a result of those efforts.

There are numerous examples of Danilo’s strength as a presser littered throughout last season. Take this goal on the opening day against Vitesse. Danilo is able to create a goal from nothing given the angles and intensity of his press.

“There was a goal when we played away at Willem II, they lost the ball and with one pass, we passed to Danilo to score. He is so comfortable, confident and quiet in his mind, he finished in a really good way and we made several goals like that over ths season,” Jans adds.

“Also, we played away against Feyenoord and the goal he made there, it is typical Danilo."

Let’s take a closer look at either strike. As Willem plays out from the back in the first example, Danilo is pressing from behind their defensive midfielder, to close off the right side of the pitch and force a pass down the left, where his side can regain the ball.

Danilo’s already set off in the below frame after the regain, paving a way through the defence before finishing with composure.

Here’s the other Twente strike Jans mentions, this time away at Feyenoord. After the visitors lose the ball, they press aggressively with Danilo remaining close to his teammate. When play is regained his speed of thought allows a first-time flick to provide an assist.

Danilo notched nine open-play Eredivisie goals in 16.1 90 minutes last season, 0.55 goals per 90.

That total featured a range of strikes from glanced headers to scrappy six-yard finishes and eye-catching strikes from a distance.

For this goal against Emmen, as play is switched following a corner, watch Danilo’s movement to head home, running in the blindside of his marker to attack a gap between full-back and centre-back.

A number of the striker's goals came from simply occupying the six-yard zone and benefitting from a failed clearance or intelligent movement, exactly the type of strike Rangers have not scored in recent seasons.

This particular finish against PSV is a fine example of the type of situation a poacher can benefit from over the course of a season.

And there’s been a fair scent of the spectacular too, like this long-ranged effort against AZ Alkmaar. 

Rangers fans are still waiting to see much of Danilo, let alone his best, given the injury issues that have plagued this season. Clement will be hoping that an overdue impact is on the horizon for a player who's due a slice of luck.