Real sense of competition behind Danilo deal: Bernabeu boss Ancelotti
Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti, 4/1 with Coral to become the first coach to retain the Champions League in the modern era, has welcomed the sense of competition that imminent arrival Danilo will bring to Los Blancos.
Brazil international Danilo, 23, links up with compatriot full back Marcelo after agreeing to join the Bernabeu outfit on a six-year contract this summer for a reported fee of £23m. This continues a prevailing pattern of Porto players that perform being purchased by Europe’s elite, as our football experts recently illustrated.
When asked about the Danilo deal, Real boss Ancelotti did not talk this up as a ‘Galactico’ signing or luxury buy, the likes of which have clearly underpinned Los Blancos’ business strategy for some time. Instead, he addressed current right backs Alvaro Arbeloa and Dani Carvajal, implicitly challenging the Spanish pair.
“Carvajal and Arbeloa understand that competition is rife at all of the big clubs,” Ancelotti said. “Danilo’s arrival will improve them as players. Both are focusing on doing their best and the signing hasn’t affected them at all.”
Some would argue at 32 and out of contract next summer, the writing is on the wall for former Liverpool man Arbeloa, though his versatility in defence should not be underestimated.
Seeing Madrid make a move for a player that serves a practical purpose like Danilo, as competition to get the best out of Carvajal going forward, appears to be a refreshing change, and comes in stark contrast to their transfer activity of recent summer windows.
Over the last two years, Real have spent over €250m on marquee signings to improve their midfield and attacking options. Galactico gold has bought Gareth Bale, Isco, Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez to the Bernabeu, plus out of favour anchorman Asier Illarramendi, who has completed 90 minutes just eight times this term.
The above quartet are names that sell shirts. With the greatest of respect to Danilo, he is not in that category, but nor are punters and fans left wondering where he fits into the picture.
Ancelotti, in consultation with Los Blancos president Florentino Perez, is thankfully not facing one of those near impossible puzzles about selecting a front six that almost inevitably ends with Madrid selling someone. Isco and Bale arriving in 2013 meant Mesut Ozil (Arsenal) and Gonzalo Higuain (Napoli) were both moved on from the Bernabeu.
Last summer was a similar story, though this time Rodriguez replaced Angel Di Maria, who was snapped up by Manchester United for a British record. Kroos’ younger legs relieved those of Xabi Alonso in the Real engine room, with Bayern Munich buying the deep-lying midfielder in an effective player-plus-cash swap.
Cynics shall say the Danilo deal is another classic case of Los Blancos putting their global brand ahead of developing Spanish talent. This body of thought will rubbish Ancelotti’s quotes of competition and instead read the situation as amounting to Carvajal finding his place under threat.
There is some merit in this view, however, as you only have to look to a number of names nurtured in Madrid before being sold or tossed aside like soiled gloves. Napoli and Rafa Benitez have especially benefited from this, purchasing centre back Raul Albiol and winger Jose Callejon for a combined €22m.
Spain striker Alvaro Morata, another La Liga and Los Blancos loss, is Serie A champions Juventus’ gain. Just like his former Bernabeu teammates in Naples (Albiol, Callejon and Higuain all helped Benitez win the Coppa Italia last term), he is set to add silverware to his CV as the Scudetto looks certain to stay in Turin for a fourth successive season.
Leaving the Bernabeu is no longer necessarily a sign of failure, then. Whether these names, be they Iberian in origin or from elsewhere, move on to bigger and better things is another argument entirely.
Recent Real raids, the winter window moves for Brazilian holding player Lucas Silva and Norwegian wonderkid Martin Odegaard, plus landing Danilo, are not vanity purchases that make a statement. They instead hint at long-term planning, though there are no guarantees gambling on the potential of those players under the age of 24.
It will be intriguing to see how these new and impending arrivals take to this sense of competition which, however you dress it up, is not just rife but cut-throat in the corridors of the Bernabeu.
Holders Madrid are 13/8 to make this year’s Champions League final, yet should they fail to reach this stage again then Ancelotti may find himself a victim of his own previous success.