In Focus: Ex-Cherries forward Danjuma enjoying sweet success at Villarreal

Luke Bissett
LiveScore
Arnaut Danjuma has impressed since joining Villarreal from Bournemouth
Arnaut Danjuma has impressed since joining Villarreal from Bournemouth

Villarreal took a huge gamble when forking out a club-record fee for then-Bournemouth winger Arnaut Danjuma last summer — but it has undoubtedly paid off. 

The forward has shone brightly for the Yellow Submarine, emerging as one of the most potent attackers in Spain since arriving in LaLiga. 

And the 25-year-old ace has also excelled in the Champions League, starring in a side that has exceeded all expectations in the competition. 

Danjuma’s goal handed Unai Emery's men the advantage in the first leg of their quarter-final clash with Bayern Munich. 

Ahead of this evening’s return encounter, we take a look at why he is thriving at the Estadio de la Ceramica.

Bournemouth breakthrough

Danjuma moved to the South Coast in the summer of 2019 for a fee of £13.7million, after an impressive spell at Belgian top-flight outfit Club Brugge. 

But the Netherlands international made just 14 Premier League appearances, of which only six were starts, as the Cherries were relegated to the Championship. 

Yet it was Danjuma’s season in England’s second tier that caught the attention of Villarreal and a host of other top clubs on the continent, with Liverpool reportedly expressing an interest last summer. 

The winger contributed 17 goals and eight assists across 37 appearances in all competitions last term, winning Bournemouth’s Player of the Year award as he helped them make the play-offs.

Spain switch

Danjuma’s performances last term were enough to persuade Villarreal to swoop for the six-cap international, parting with around £21.5m to secure his services. 

That fee certainly raised a few eyebrows, with the Nigeria-born attacker's limited experience in one of Europe’s elite leagues making him a somewhat unknown quantity at that level. 

Expectations for the wide man’s immediate impact with the Europa League winners were minimal. After all, the Yellow Submarine’s frontline was one of the most prolific in LaLiga last season. 

Emery's side would also be competing in the Champions League group stage for the first time in a decade, representing a huge step up from the Championship — not that Danjuma was fazed in the slightest.

Super submarine

Arnaut Danjuma has scored six goals in just nine Champions League games for Villarreal
Arnaut Danjuma has scored six goals in just nine Champions League games for Villarreal

Danjuma's explosion at the Estadio de la Ceramica has been nothing short of extraordinary — he has netted 14 goals in all competitions so far this term. 

His eight LaLiga goals make him the club’s joint-top goalscorer in the league, alongside Gerard Moreno.

The forward has the joint-second highest non-penalty expected goals per 90 minutes in LaLiga this season with 0.63, while he is in the top five players for shots attempted per 90 (3.66). 

The PSV academy graduate has had no issues with acclimatising to Champions League football either, boasting eight goal contributions to date.

New role

Arnaut Danjuma operates in both central and wide areas for Villarreal
Arnaut Danjuma operates in both central and wide areas for Villarreal

Despite being an out-and-out winger at Bournemouth, Emery has deployed Danjuma in a more central role this campaign. 

The forward transforms into a striker at times — keeping him closer to the opposition’s goal, rather than being forced to track back. 

This then allows Villarreal to utilise Danjuma’s speed, by penetrating spaces left behind opposing full-backs, with quick transitions into the wide areas. 

That does not mean that the club’s No15 has completely ditched the traits that have served him so well as a winger however, with Danjuma attempting a commendable 3.66 take-ons per 90 in LaLiga.

Louis love-in

Arnaut Danjuma has been a standout performer in Villarreal's run to the Champions League quarter-finals
Arnaut Danjuma has been a standout performer in Villarreal's run to the Champions League quarter-finals

Danjuma’s displays in a yellow shirt have not gone unnoticed on the international stage either — and he has featured in four of the Netherlands' past five fixtures.

Oranje manager Louis van Gaal certainly made no secret of his admiration for the wing wizard when questioned about his absence in autumn last year. 

The 70-year-old said: "He [Danjuma] has changed clubs, he did that quite late and he didn’t play in the first phase [of the season] either. 

"He has been doing great. We are watching everything and I am really happy he is doing so well.

"He is decisive at the highest level."

Danjuma has no doubt forced himself into Van Gaal’s thinking, as he looks to nail down a starting berth in the Dutch side ahead of November’s World Cup.

Not only has he impressed his national team coach, but the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United and Newcastle — managed by his former boss Eddie Howe — are all rumoured to be preparing summer transfer bids.

Playing an influential role in guiding his side past Bundesliga powerhouses Bayern tonight will show all suitors he has truly reached the European elite.

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Champions LeagueVillarreal
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