Brasileirão Returnees Part 2 – Denilson and Andre Santos


In the second part of a special feature, Tim Stillman of Vital Arsenal and Arseblog takes a look at how some of the Seleção have fared when they returned to Brazil…

The first part of this feature looked at the fortunes of Gilberto Silva and Jô. Of a similar age to Jô is Denilson Perreira de Neves, now 25. Denilson signed for Arsenal from his hometown team São Paulo in August 2006. Having captained Brazil’s U-17, U-18 and U-20 side, he had a reputation as an up-and-coming talent. His introduction to Premier League life was gentle for much of his first two seasons, as he quietly impressed in League Cup fixtures. Then, in 2008, with Gilberto Silva, Lassana Diarra and Mathieu Flamini making a bee line out of North London, Denilson got his chance at the base of Arsenal’s midfield.

Initially he struck up a promising partnership with Alex Song and in the 2008-09 season he played over 40 games as one of Arsenal’s most consistent performers. However, he picked up a back injury during the 2009-10 season which affected his mobility. This resulted in him famously being overtaken by the referee as he meekly chased Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney en route to another United goal. Denilson was usurped by Song in the Arsenal midfield and failed to recapture his early promise. In the summers of 2011 and 2012 he signed a loan deal with his cradle club São Paulo. Continue reading

Denilson – the Unlikely Arsenal Regular


Hugo Greenhalgh, editor of The False Nine, profiles Denilson – a player who came to define an era of Arsenal mediocrity…

It can be difficult growing up in the shadow of your namesake. For Denílson Pereira Neves, formerly of Arsenal, the legacy of Denílson de Oliveira Araújo perhaps brought unfair expectations. Denilson the Elder, as we’ll call him, played in two World Cup Finals and was at one time the most expensive player in the world when he was signed by Real Betis for £21.5 million in 1998. Denilson the Younger has never received a senior cap.

Incidentally, both players began their careers at Sao Paulo. The Younger joined Arsenal at the age of 18 for a fee of £3.4 million in August 2006, although the move was somewhat overshadowed by the loan signing of compatriot Julio Baptista from Real Madrid on transfer deadline day. Having played just 374 minutes for Sao Paulo, Denilson arrived as something of an unknown quantity. Even Brazilian commentators questioned the move; “He had played only a few times for his club. He was discreet, he never stood out. I only saw him a couple of times; he was basically a reserve,” said Tostao, a member of Brazil’s 1970 World Cup-winning side. Arsene Wenger offered an intriguing description of what the young Brazilian might have to offer, stating that Denilson was “a little bit in between Tomas Rosicky and Gilberto”. Continue reading