Danilo Pereira insists he is not a defender and Portugal coach Fernando Santos agrees, yet PSG boss Thomas Tuchel takes a different view.
Fernando Santos has entered the debate surrounding Danilo Pereira’s role in the Paris Saint-Germain team, saying he sees the Portugal international as a midfielder.
Danilo joined PSG on loan from Porto in October and has played at centre-back in four of his five appearances so far
Curiously, coach Thomas Tuchel has instead picked Marquinhos, nominally a defender, in Danilo’s preferred central midfield position, describing his captain as “the heart and soul of our team” while suggesting the new man “has all the qualities” to play deeper.
After again lining up in the middle of a back four in Wednesday’s 2-1 Champions League defeat to RB Leipzig, though, Danilo spoke up on the matter.
“Being a defender is not my job,” he told Telefoot. “I’m a midfielder. The coach asks me to play at centre-back, so I do what the coach asks me to do.
“I know the basic role of a defender. I’m trying to get used to it. My team-mates help me a lot to find my bearings in defence.”
Portugal coach Santos agrees with his player, saying on Thursday: “With enormous respect for my PSG colleague [Tuchel], Danilo is a midfielder for me.
“He can play centre-back on occasions, just like William [Carvalho], but my opinion is that he is a midfielder and will continue to be a midfielder.
“But that doesn’t mean I’m right.”
In the Champions League so far this season, Danilo has been able to have a greater impact on the game while playing in his natural midfield role.
Stationed there against Manchester United, the 29-year-old could more effectively shield the defence, making three tackles and six interceptions in that match alone.
— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) November 4, 2020
Across his two other appearances combined, Danilo has one tackle and two interceptions.
He has averaged 74.5 touches per Champions League game in defence, compared to 62 in midfield, yet Danilo’s performances with Porto last season suggest he is most effective when out of possession and disrupting the opposition.
The former Maritimo man contested 16 duels and won 75 per cent of those in a single game against Feyenoord in the Europa League.