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