Return Of The Loanees – Denilson
Good morning Gooners.
Last night’s victories for Newcastle and Spuds mean the pair of them close to within a point of Arsenal. While third place is still very much in our own hands, there is absolutely no margin for error any more and both remaining games are must-wins. Let’s hope the players can cope with the pressure and rise to the challenge.
One of the pleasing things about yesterday was seeing Fabrice Muamba back at the Reebok, albeit in the stands. After the very public ordeal he went through, a recovery like that warms the heart and extends our belief that miracles do happen. And Chelsea making it to the Champions League finals in Munich is further proof of that.
Elsewhere, Ajax sealed their second consecutive Dutch title under Frank de Boer with a 2-0 victory over VVV last night. Ajax totally dominated the match and could have scored a handful more if the finishing was better. Reported Arsenal target Jan Vertonghen let loose two vicious left footed strikes in the first half, both of which rattled the post.
The Dutch defender looked solid defensively as well. Without doubt, he would be a fantastic addition to the Arsenal. The only concern I have is his ability to cope with the pace of the Premier League because he does look slower than Vermaelen. With the season drawing rapidly to a close, I think we’ll know soon enough if he’s coming to AFC.
Today though, we return to the examination of Arsenal loanees – and it’s Denilson under the microscope this time.
Denilson was always highly rated by Arsene Wenger, who once described him as possessing a bit of Gilberto and a bit of Rosicky. By the start of 2010-2011 season, the Brazilian had established himself as a regular starter, although criticism from fans was growing as many considered him to be an average player in a team full of creative talents.
A groin injury sidelined him for the first few matches of last season’s campaign, opening the door for a certain Jack Wilshere to step up. Denilson struggled to get into the side after that, although he did figure heavily in our FA cup and League cup campaigns.
The Brazilian’s performances have divided supporters with most opining that he’s not good enough for Arsenal. He was considered too light-weight for a defensive midfielder and too short of ideas for an attacking one. His job was to keep the ball moving, but his inability to influence games when the front players struggled meant he received much criticism for being too one-paced and predictable.
I think the growing frustration among fans was one contributing reason for Arsene Wenger to loan out the Brazilian in July last year. At the time, Fabregas and Nasri’s futures were not decided and it was likely that at least one of them would stay and continue in the attacking midfield role. Arsene could also not have predicted that injury would sideline Jack Wilshere for the entire campaign.
Back in Brazil, Denilson made his mark very quickly for his home club, picking up a red card in his second game and another one in October. As I have not closely followed his performances for São Paulo this season, I thought to ask someone covering the Brazilian leagues about the midfielder’s recent form.
I haven’t seen Denílson that much in recent months so I think it would be a bit unfair of me to judge him. What I can say is that after a dodgy start when he returned to Brazil, he seems to be finding his feet and is now a regular starter under coach Emerson Leão (though part of this is down to the long-term injury to defensive midfielder Wellington Martins).
His early sendings off got a lot of publicity but you have to bear in mind that referees here in Brazil are card happy and tackles that would be acceptable in the EPL normally result in a yellow, or sometimes red card here.
I’m afraid that with the focus on Rogerio Ceni, Lucas Moura, Casemiro and Luis Fabiano at São Paulo, the name of Denílson rarely gets a mention – and from this you can deduce that he is not yet seen as an integral part of the Morumbi first team by the fans or the media.
It’s safe to say Denilson hasn’t been blazing a trail back in his home country. I do feel though that he’s the kind of player that gets easily ignored when playing well but is immediately highlighted when not at his best. So the fact that he’s not grabbing headlines doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s playing badly.
The player himself has stated his desire to remain in Brazil, although Arsenal have recalled him once his loan tenure ends. This could be a strategy to push São Paulo to make an offer, as Denilson still has a couple of years to run on his contract.
On the other hand, Arsene Wenger may think about including him in the squad for next season. He is the closest to an Arteta-type player we have, someone who can keep the ball well and do the unspectacular. Agreed, he hasn’t shown either the defensive capabilities or the attacking contributions of the Spaniard but as back up, could he do a job in case injuries strike?
The Brazilian midfielder has always been very professional and is by all accounts a very good team player. For a bench role, you need players like Denilson, Djourou and Benayoun who can come on and do a job when required. As long as he is not burdened with driving the team forward, I think he can still contribute as a deep-lying midfielder.
Denilson also has ‘homegrown’ status and this could have a bearing on his Arsenal future. It makes sense to use the full homegrown quota to have a bigger squad, as the under-21s are not required to be named in the list.
Out of all the loanees, Denilson is the one I am most unsure about. I feel Arsene may want to look at him during pre-season and decide whether he can serve a purpose coming off the bench. Remember also that if we intend to mount a title challenge next season, a player of Arteta’s importance is unlikely to be used in cup games. This means Arsenal will need experience players as back up to progress in cup competitions.
What do you think? Does Denilson deserve another chance at Arsenal? Share your views.