It cannot be said that Villarreal forward Arnaut Danjuma is a man without confidence. The Dutch winger made the switch from Bournemouth to Villarreal last season and has not looked back.
Speaking to The Guardian ahead of Villarreal’s quarter-final first leg against Bayern Munich, Danjuma was optimistic about his position in world football’s pecking order. “Looking at what I’ve done this season, it’s fair and factual to say I’m one of the best wingers in the world,” he said.
It’s hard to go against Danjuma on this front. He has been in excellent shape for the Yellow Submarine all season.
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Danjuma signed to Bournemouth’s Championship last summer for around £20million and has more than recouped Villarreal in terms of performance. He scored 16 goals and provided four assists in 33 appearances for the Spanish side, despite missing some of the winter games due to injury.
Danjuma has been a central part of Villarreal who has disrupted the established order by making it to the last four of the Champions League, beating European aristocrats in Juventus and Bayern in the process. Against the Italians, Danjuma converted a crucial penalty, swinging the pendulum of the game and the draw in their favor.
Going into the two games with Liverpool, Danjuma will be one of Villarreal’s key men, and one that Jurgen Klopp will have to keep in mind as he prepares his tactics for the game. Villarreal coach Unai Emery will no doubt set up his side to take the pressure and counterattack, just as they did against Juve and Bayern Munich.
Danjuma will be one of those outlets to use over the counter, such a key asset for Emery with its blazing fast pace. Could the 25-year-old use the two games against Liverpool as an audition for a future transfer to Anfield?
Danjuma has been mainly used as a striker or on the left wing by Emery since moving to Villarreal, two positions in which Liverpool currently have an abundance of talent. “In La Liga I’ve played a lot of games as a striker because Unai thinks I can be more than just a winger,” he told The Guardian.
With Sadio Mane, Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota all fighting for the start, not to mention Roberto Firmino’s continued presence at the club, there’s little chance that Liverpool and Klopp would bring in Danjuma.
But with Mane’s contract expiring next summer and no news about his future, there is a chance he could leave the club this summer or next summer. Danjuma could be signed to play down the middle, while Díaz has made his way to the left side in recent weeks. After all, Liverpool gained interest last summer and are sure to enjoy what they’ve seen since.
But one thing is certain, an impressive performance, or two, against Liverpool will put him in the window for some of Europe’s biggest clubs and cement his own claim as one of the best wingers in the world. Klopp could complain that he didn’t bring him in last year.