While Rangers have already splashed out on Sam Lammers and Abdallah Sima they aren't showing any signs of stopping their attacking spending spree.

Cyriel Dessers is the next on the way with Cremonese finally agreeing a fee thought to be in the region of ÂŁ4m.

Many assumed that might spike a move for Feyenoord's Brazillian striker Danilo but the Ibrox club are in no mood to slow their recruitment drive.

In this scouting report, Eredivisie expert Melvin Dupper will take a closer look at the striker, examining his data, assessing his playing style and outlining his key strengths while also pointing out areas for improvement. 

Biography

Born in Sao Paulo, Danilo represented Portuguesa, Corinthians, Ponte Preta and Vasco da Gama as a youth player before switching to the Santos academy in 2016. One year later, on 7 September 2017, Danilo signed with Dutch club Ajax after agreeing a five-year-deal for €2m.

Initially he was assigned to the Ajax under-19 squad and B team, who are playing in the Dutch second division. In February 2020 Danilo made his debut for the first team after getting subbed on in a game against Heracles Almelo. Four days later he was awarded a first start in a Europa League fixture against Getafe and crowned his debut with a goal.

After this single performance, Danilo got loaned out in season 2020/2021 to FC Twente. He got off to a flying start with nine goals in his first nine appearances. Together with winger Vaclav Cerny he was part of FC Twente’s golden duo. But after the wideman got injured the performances of Danilo regressed. During his stay at FC Twente he eventually scored 17 goals and made 5 assists in 33 appearances, becoming the fourth Brazilian (after Romario, Ronaldo and Afonso Alves) to hit more than 16 goals in a single Eredivisie season.

When the loan expired, Danilo returned to Ajax and got the no.9 jersey. He really wanted to impress in the pre-season and take his chance to become first-choice striker. Unfortunately for him, it wasn't to be as SĂ©bastien Haller took the starting slot. The competition grew tougher Ajax signed Brian Brobbey from Leipzig on a winter loan deal. This led eventually to the announcement that he would leave Ajax on a free at the end of the season. He concluded the season as Eredivisie winner and top scorer in the Dutch domestic cup with 6 goals in 3 appearances.

In May 2022 Feyenoord announced they signed Danilo on a free. He signed a contract until June 2026. Again, just as during his period at FC Twente, Danilo started the season very well with two goals in his first match against Vitesse. In the first 8 Eredivisie fixtures, he scored six goals as well as a single assist.

During the season Danilo had some good competition from the other striker Feyenoord signed at the start of the season: Santiago Gimenez. The club paid a significant amount of money for him and he was expected to become the number-one striker and as the season went on Danilo got fewer playing minutes. Gimenez performed amazingly and Danilo was benched for most of the games. Danilo concluded the season as champion of the Netherlands having played 34 Eredivisie matches (which he started 14 off), scored 10 goals and made 3 assists.

Player Profile

For the whole of his career, Danilo has been predominantly a striker in a 4-3-3 formation. According to WyScout, the right-footed Brazilian played 83% of his minutes this season as a striker in a 4-2-3-1 formation for Feyenoord. He played the other minutes as a central attacking midfielder close behind the striker. Regardless, I think we can say that Danilo is a proper no.9.

Looking at his physical profile he has an average build and with his 5ft8 (174cm) height he is on the smaller side for a striker. Danilo is right-footed but also very decent with his left. You could describe Danilo as being relatively quick over the first 10 meters. His workrate is pretty high which is a must when playing for a high-pressing side like Rangers. He likes to make diagonal runs in order to make space for either himself or his teammates.

Danilo has had some injuries in the past, with a hamstring injury from 2019 as the most severe but since then he hasn’t had any significant injuries.

In order to make his playing profile visual I’ve created the overview below. It shows the percentile scores of Danilo compared to other strikers in the Eredivisie with at least 500 minutes played. For instance: a score of 100% means that he outscores 100% of his fellow Eredivisie strikers. Let’s zoom in on some of the numbers he produces.

Looking at the defensive output of Danilo you can see that he is amongst the top of the league in his possession-adjusted interceptions. His average is 2.18 per 90 minutes.  This is mainly due to the high press Feyenoord likes to play and the sharpness of Danilo when the opposition is in possession. Danilo is close to average looking at the percentage of defensive duels won (51.2%), although he doesn’t get involved in a lot of those (2.68 p/90).

His aerial duels per 90 minutes (4.36) is on the lower side. This is for a significant part caused by Feyenoord's style of play which is predominantly focused on short build-up. Next to that Danilo certainly isn’t a targetman type and does not benefit from long balls. He wins 28.5% of his aerial duels which puts him in the 20th percentile of the Eredivisie strikers.

In possession

Danilo has great data when it comes to assisting. He is amongst the best when it comes to expected assists (0.1 p/90), actual assists (0.2 p/90) and shot assists (1.01 p/90). He does not have a lot of volume in progressive passing (0.74 P/90) and final third passing (1.41 p/90), but his accuracy is above average. The low volume of “forward” passing could be because of the fact he doesn’t pick up balls very deep in to the phase of play. He sticks more to his position and finds link-ups higher up the pitch.

The absolute strength of Danilo is shown in the attacking part of his data profile. His expected goals (0.57 p/90) and non-penalty goals (0.56 p/90) are very high. The xG also includes one penalty, which makes him a slight overperformer. Danilo likes to fire shots (3.32 p/90) and despite his height, he is elevated up the ranks on headed goals (0.19 p/90). He scored three of his 10 goals with his head. Danilo’s goal conversion sits at 17 percent, slightly above average.

His total dribbles per 90 is above average (2.17) but he’s quite far down at the dribble success rate (37%). 

Attacking

As shown in the percentile rank overview, Danilo’s absolute strength comes from his direct goal threat. This season he scored 10 league goals in just 1453 minutes of play which puts him close to the top of all Eredivisie players. And his numbers for xG per 90 minutes are similarly impressive. This high number is due to the fact that most of his shots and goals are from very close to the goal as you can see on the shotmap below. This involves all of Danilo’s shots from the last calendar year. Danilo has very good offensive positioning and is often in the right place to finish.

His shots are quite accurate with 44.4% of his shots being on target. Next to that, his shots are also pretty varied. Almost half are with his head or his weaker left foot. Although as earlier said: his left foot is more than decent.

Danilo is a very calm and composed finisher who has the ability in 1-vs-1 situations with the goalkeeper to await first movement.

While Danilo doesn’t shoot from distance that often, he still showed he has a good strike from range in his arsenal. This goal for Feyenoord last season in a league game against AZ is an absolute must-watch! 

An extra quality of Danilo to be mentioned is the fact that he is a good penalty taker. He scored 16 of the 18 taken. In the overview below you can see the nice variety of placement that suggests James Tavernier might have a rival in the seasons ahead.

The part to improve in his attacking arsenal is his dribbling. Although Danilo has quite a lot of dribbles per 90, his succession rate is low at 37 percent. He can sometimes look a bit clumsy or unpolished with the ball when dribbling. Part of this is caused by his inconsistent first touch which causes unorthodox dribbling. This leads to difficult situations when being pressed by the opponent. Partially because of this Danilo is not really capable of creating direct scoring chances on his own.  An example from the Europa League game against Roma (where he got subbed on as central attacking midfielder) can be found below.

Danilo receives the ball in space from Wieffer.

His first touch is really poor which leads to direct pressure from Smalling and the obligation of Danilo to go for a dribble past him.

Danilo doesn’t manage to get past Smalling and loses the ball.

Possession

Danilo is excellent in short combinations and has good numbers looking at assisting and the accuracy of his passing in the final third. He likes to look for link-up play with nearby teammates and often does so with little backheels and first-touch short passes. You could describe him as a player with a lot of flair in this area of his game. This play brings a lot of dynamic to the team and makes Danilo really difficult to defend against when he moves on brisky after the touch. Below an example of excellent link-up play by Danilo during his loan spell at FC Twente against Ajax.

Danilo receives a difficult high pass from his teammate.

He flicks the ball with a backheel towards Cerny who is on the inside.

Cerny is able to enter the box and a direct goal threat has been created.

The good numbers mentioned earlier are also present in the overview below. Danilo is high up based on assists per 90, expected assists per 90 and shot assists per 90. Hereby must be mentioned that all of the players in the Eredivisie from the last calendar year have been included. So not just strikers.

The WyScout definition of a shot assist is as follows: “the last action of a player prior to a teammate having a shot”.  This is close to the definition of a key pass by Opta. The difference is that for a successful key pass it is necessary that the shot after doesn’t lead to a goal. If it does lead to a goal, it would be an assist.

Rangers Review: The most room for improvement in Danilo’s play in possession is the volume of his passing. As shown in the percentile rank overview his percentile scores on volume compared to other strikers in the Eredivisie is very low despite playing for the most dominant team last season. Now, it’s difficult to play more forward passes when you’re high up in the opponent's half, but Danilo can be involved more in possessional play and should drive out of his striker position more often. He certainly has the ability.

Defensive output

Danilo can be described as an energetic striker with a high work rate. This is also something that has been asked of him by Feyenoord’s head coach Arne Slot last season. He was expected to lead the press when the opposition's goalkeeper or defense had the ball. Despite all of this, his total recoveries compared to other forwards are not very high. All of Danilo’s recoveries in the final third have led to a total of 1.41xG which resulted in 1 goal.

A nice example of the willingness of Danilo to press opponents can be found below. These pictures are from the first match of the season against Vitesse.

The defender throws the ball back to the centre back and Danilo recognizes this moment to press right away.

Danilo fully presses the centre back who now is obliged to play the ball back to the goalkeeper. Danilo runs right away towards the goalkeeper to keep the pressure on the ball.

Danilo blocks the goalkeeper’s long ball and scores.

Some good pressing by Danilo which is even more impressive if you take in to account that this is in minute 65 of the game while leading 2-3. It says something about the mentality, intensity of play and even the stamina of the player.

Conclusion

Danilo is a good striker with amazing instinctive finishing skills who is able to create a very good amount of chances and goals for his teammates. He has some great link-up play which makes defending his skills hard. Danilo brings a lot of energy into the team and is willing to do defensive work for a pressing side.

His main areas of improvement are his first touch and his dribbling skills. He is not a player able to create chances all by himself. He will always be more important for his team when he is more involved in the play. 

Danilo can be a very good striker for Rangers and a transfer might be a good solution for both parties since his playing time next season will most likely be limited if he stays at Feyenoord.

One interesting possible issue does present itself. Rangers play with two strikers upfront which Danilo has never encountered before.  However, looking at the pace, link-up play, pressing and canny runs of Danilo, I think he has it in him to succeed with a striking partner in the Scottish Premiership.