A Legend Waiting to Blossom?

On 31st August 2006 at around midnight, a name crossed the Sky Sports News rolling ticker, Denilson signs for Arsenal. After that, there was silence. Who was this person? Where did he play? How good is he? How old is he? These were just some of the questions being asked by Arsenal fans. 


We had to wait until the Carling Cup to see who this player was and during the first season he made some fleeting appearances, he was only 18 so we were not expecting much from him. In his first season, he made 13 starts. Last season he was unable to make any great impact and at one point he disappeared from the radar, neither being named as a substitute nor listed as injured. It must have been very hard for a youngster to leave his home and come to a foreign land where it was cold and raining most of the time, look what it did to poor Baptista!


The Arsenal coaches have high expectations for Denilson, in the same way that they expect great things from Merida and Diaby.

With the departures of Gilberto and Flamini in the summer and our failure to bring in any central midfielders, Denilson was left with the duties of playing a defensive role.  This was flawed from the outset, Denilson is small in stature and will not grow more, and until he is “bulked” up and is too easily knocked off the ball.  Denilson was never bought to be the “enforcer” in the team, his role is more akin to Fabregas, he is a creative player who prefers to go forward and as he has shown this season he is capable of timing his runs to score goals.

In his formative years his delivery from free kicks or corners was excellent, he also packed a mean strike from distance, we need to see more these traits from the young Brazilian.

Denilson will develop into a more forceful midfielder, he will never be a giant like Vieira, but he can turn into a Flamini type player.  Flamini was not big, nor did he possess as much skill and ability as Denilson, but what he did was constantly harassing opponents.  It must also be remembered that Flamini was older than Denilson and his best season at Arsenal was after being at the club for four years.

The media has not taken to Denilson primarily because we are struggling, yet Flamini was held up as our saviour and the answer to our central midfield problem.  Denilson is still learning the game; he will make mistakes about positioning and tracking players, but as longer as we see improvements and progress then the fans need to get behind Denilson.

Posted on February 19, 2009, in Arsenal Players and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. 2 points:

    1st of all: “This was floored from the outset, Denilson is small in stature and will not grow more, and he is “bulked” up and is too easily knocked off the ball”. Surely you mean “flawed” from the outset.

    2nd: if he’s going to “blossom”, will he please hurry up about it

  2. Nice one northbanklegend, I have heard disturbing comments from some supporters about Denilson but your article has resored trust and calmness in me heart. Thanks for the insightful article seeing things many with average knowledge like me can not see.

    Its also tells me the reason why Wenger has persisted with him and Diaby when many of us are tearing out their hair( for those who have hair that is).

  3. he’s got potential to be really good i think, but i only wish he wasn’t a first team regular right now. i wish we had flamini behind cesc and den could play as his replacement when he’s rested. that way there wouldn’t be so much pressure on him and arsenal don’t have to suffer for any poor performances in the first team.

    he was really good vs cardiff though. one of the best players actually. that was one of his best performances this season, so nice work there. but he has to keep it up. if he plays like that every week i think people will warm to him very quickly.

  4. I think I disagree with your views on Denilson and I will use another model – Michael Carrick. While Carrick is taller than Denilson I think you could say Denilson has a bit more bulk on the Manc. However Carrick is arguably the Prem’s finest central mid right now because of 2 things. Firstly he’s not a rough and tumble mid like Keane was but Carrick has insightful positional play which Denilson lacks. He seems to not know where he needs to be and when he needs to be there to break up a play. An enforcer doesn’t have to really be some roughneck bully, he simply covers the back four and disrupts the opposition. Carrick is the new Makalele because he uses finesse and intelligence to stop opponents rather than brute force. Denilson just hasn’t shown me that yet. Song is closer to Carrick but Song lacks the touch and comfort on the ball that Carrick does. Secondly Denilson is not Flamini. Denilson has yet to be the player on the pitch that covers significantly more ground than any of the other 21 players. When your central mid is occupying over 11km of space in 90 minutes that is the sign of a real pest to the opposition. For all of Flam’s lack of technical ability he never stops going but Denilson just doesn’t have those same numbers. His field coverage doesn’t jump out at you like Flamini’s did.

    Maybe in time Denilson can be the central mid but right now he’s being outclassed by the likes of Carrick, Mascherano and Essien in the other typical top four clubs. Even Scott Parker is looking ever vigilant though these players do all have experience over him.

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