Arnaut Danjuma: Villarreal’s Dutch Star in Attack

Known for his infamous snake celebration, Arnaut ‘Adam’ Danjuma is not a newbie to the abilities of European football. Starting off at PSV’s youth academy and progressing through to the under 19’s, Danjuma eventually made a move to NEC Nijmegen, another Dutch team.


It is there he caught the eyes of Club Brugge and moved for a transfer of £2.5m. Bothered by a persistent ankle injury at Club Brugge, Danjuma spent 24 games injured that season, playing only 24 games across all competitions and finishing with 6 goals and 4 assists.


Having won the Belgian Cup and the Super Cup, it was his next move AFC Bournemouth that would introduce him to the footballing world, although fitness issues took a toll on him. Playing only 15 games across all competitions totaling 654 minutes, Danjuma struggled with injuries, missing 21 games that season with a fractured foot and hamstring injury.


Despite this, he returned the following season, playing the most games in his career in one season (37 games) in the EFL Championship, and finished the season with 17 goals and 8 assists across all competitions. This is the season that captured many clubs’ attention, including his current club Villarreal. 


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Having joined the Spanish club for a fee of £21 million, Danjuma went on to explode on the scene with the club, fans and the footballing world, particularly in their Champions League run that saw them get to the semi-finals, knocking out German giants Bayern on the way.


Although this was not Danjuma’s first UCL appearance, he never made it out of the group stages with Club Brugge. With phenomenal performances against Manchester United in the group stages, many clubs began to pay attention to Danjuma and his ability to flourish under Emery’s coaching style.


In a UEFA Champions League run that saw Danjuma score 6 goals and 1 assist, particularly against Bayern and Juventus, he sadly missed the second leg vs Liverpool due to a muscular injury, the same injury that kept him out of the last five games of La Liga.


With an impressive La Liga debut and goals against Atletico Madrid, Real Betis and a hattrick against Granada, Danjuma finished the season with 16 goals and 4 assists across 33 games (26 starts). Alongside these impressive stats, he was also in the 99th percentile for npxG and the 95th percentile for touches and progressive passes against other wingers and attackers, with a 75% pass completion rate.


Under Emery, he is also heavily involved in attacking moves for the club, rated amongst some of the highest forwards for touches in the opponent’s box and direct shot involvement per 90, with only Robert Lewandowski and Kylian Mbappe higher. 


All 16 goals for the 21/22 season saw it come from inside the box, with only 2 inside the six-yard-box. 7 goals on his left foot and 9 goals on his right foot show Danjuma’s ability to confuse defenders with his shooting options.


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His time at Bournemouth saw him play as a winger, but his time at La Liga shows he is capable of being morphed into a striker if necessary and leading La Liga in expected non-penalty goals per 90 proved just that. 


With a combination of speed, balance and confidence, Arnaut Danjuma has a fearless ability to take on defenders and break through defences. His ability to cut in on his right foot when playing on the left was evident during the UCL fixtures against Manchester United where Diogo Dalot did not have an answer for him.


The only thing stopping Danjuma from a brace that night was David De Gea. With the ability to dribble with both feet, watching Danjuma sometimes feels like watching a Robben prodigy coming through when cutting onto his right foot.


Danjuma can also be a signing option for a lot of Premier League clubs in need of a winger this season. With a £45m release clause, the Dutch international will be aiming to be called up to Louis Van Gaal’s World Cup squad too, so some may argue that now is not the best time to make a move as he is considered an important player for Villarreal.


With Liverpool being linked prior to the signing of Darwin Nunez, the most recent link is West Ham with Villarreal and West Ham already having talks over the player’s future. He could team up with a talented West Ham team that finished sixth last year in the season and could provide goals for the club alongside Jared Bowen, Said Benrahma and Michail Antonio.


Having recently signed Moroccan defender Nayef Aguerd, the club are looking to strengthen in all areas. Manchester United should also be looking at the 25-year-old as a replacement signing if Antony’s deal doesn’t go through with Ajax.


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Boasting the ability to play on either winger and with either foot, an interchangeable winger, Danjuma would complement the playing style of Jadon Sancho as they both play differently despite playing in the same position.


With Ronaldo returning for another season with the club and Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial hoping to bounce back from the slump of last season, United will need goals from somewhere.


Recent history links Utd to inflated transfer prices and inflated wages, but Danjuma, who is currently on £25k a week and would cost £45m in a transfer window that might be the most expensive in history, would be the steal of the window. 


Outside of football, Arnaut Danjuma talks about his childhood in the Netherlands and relates his infamous celebration back to this. In an episode of the Freshly Grounded podcast, Danjuma talks about the reasoning behind his celebration, mentioning his childhood friend who use to do this celebration when they use to play together as kids.


As he has continued his football career, this celebration may become as iconic as other celebrations. During the 2022 summer off-season, Danjuma spent time in a mosque in West London, attending Islamic classes during his free time, where he mentions the importance of accessibility to young youths to himself, as he also knows that some aspects of society see him as a role model.


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A devout Muslim, Arnaut does not shy away from mentioning this across all his social media platforms and in interviews. As many young Muslims, and non-Muslims, look up to Arnaut Danjuma, his options this summer will continue to fluctuate as he makes his mark on the football world.


His choice to return to the UK and return to the Premier League could also include the number of Muslim players in the league and the adaptability clubs have shown during religious observations such as Ramadan.


With Mohamed Salah, N’Golo Kante, Riyad Mahrez, Hakim Ziyech and more, the list of Muslim players in the league will continue to grow. It is important to mention this because, when mentioning Arnaut Danjuma, his religious beliefs is one important aspect that makes up the person. 


By: @Mina_MUFC

Featured Image: @GabFoligno / DeFodi Images