The Championship, touted as one of the most competitive and intense leagues in the world, is a talent cluster that generates some of the most exciting prospects in world football. Ollie Watkins, Said Benrahma, and Eze earned a transfer to the Premier League in the summer of 2020 and demonstrated last season that they are only scratching the surface of their terrifying potential.
Similarly, yet another talented player showcased his skills in the Championship last season and won himself a big move. But this time, the player defied the mainstream by taking his talents to La Liga. The player in question is Arnaut Danjuma, who was signed by Villarreal from Bournemouth for a price of about £21.3 million. After spending two seasons at Dean Court, the 24-year-old winger has signed a five-year contract with the Yellow Submarine.
New home 🏡💛.@danjuma 🔥 pic.twitter.com/nRttuaLXUd
— Villarreal CF (@VillarrealCF) August 19, 2021
With defending Europa League champions locking the 24-year-old Dutchman down until 2026, a number of elite clubs have passed up the opportunity to sign the Championship standout. With that being said, let’s learn more about Danjuma’s career and what the Dutch winger brings to Villarreal.
Born in Lagos Nigeria, Arnaut Danjuma was four years old when his parents divorced, which resulted in a period of homelessness before he and his siblings were placed in foster care and eventually migrated to the Netherlands– a time he does not warmly recall. Following a period wrapped in hardships, a young Danjuma found his way of life through football.
He joined PSV’s academy at the age of 11 and spent eight years working his way up the ranks before being released following making a number of appearances for the U19 squad, however, without making a single first-team appearance.
He subsequently joined fellow Dutch outfits NEC Nijmegen. Following an initial stint with NEC’s U21 squad, in which he scored an impressive 8 goals in 9 matches, the youngster was given the opportunity to exhibit his abilities for the first team where he logged almost 2,500 league minutes in his breakout campaign, bagging 11 goals and dishing out 17 assists.
After making a strong impression in the Dutch second division, the next challenge in a career that was blossoming at a breakneck rate came calling from Belgium. His talents were acquired by Club Brugge KV.
🇳🇱 Arnaut 'Danjuma' Groeneveld is de naam!
🔴 NEC 2017-2018:
📊 28 matchen
⚽️ 11 goals
🔵 Club Brugge 2018-2019:
📊 4 matchen
⚽️ 2 goals
👟 2 assists
Wat een start! 🚀 pic.twitter.com/Rj0UV58UH0
— Unibet Belgium (@unibetbelgium) August 11, 2018
Joining Brugge entailed playing elite European football and offering Danjuma an opportunity to showcase his abilities at a superior stage. He was only at the Belgian side for a brief time, but it was enough for Europe’s best teams to keep an eye on him. The winger had a decent season, scoring six goals and assisting four more in 25 games to help Brugge win the Belgian Super Cup.
Although the standout moment for the Dutch international came at Europe’s summit, as he made his mark on the Champions League stage. The clock had just ticked past the half-hour mark at the Wanda Metropolitano against Atletico Madrid. Bruges were down 1-0 when the Dutchman darted infield and unleashed a shot that went past Jan Oblak and into the net.
👏 Sensational strike! 🎯
💙🖤 Arnaut 'Danjuma' Groeneveld 👌#UCL pic.twitter.com/RzMuAJGpLW
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) October 9, 2018
Bruges went on to lose the match 3-1 and would fail to qualify for the knockout phase but it was a moment that made people sit up and take notice of the Dutch winger.
Ronald Koeman handed Danjuma his international debut against Germany ten days following that sublime strike in Madrid. Three days later, in a 1-1 stalemate with Belgium, he even bagged his first international goal for the Netherlands
JOINING THE CHERRIES
Danjuma’s skill piqued Manchester City’s interest during his breakout 2017-18 campaign in the Netherlands as well as prompting AC Milan to launch a bid for him in 2019. In the end, Bournemouth won the fight for the Dutchman by acquiring his signature for £13 million.
The Dutch winger is now on board with #afcb 👊https://t.co/PPRfy0XKaJ
— AFC Bournemouth 🍒 (@afcbournemouth) August 1, 2019
Danjuma’s first year in England was marked by despair as a result of recurrent injuries to both feet. During his preseason debut against Lyon, he sustained a fracture in one foot, which sidelined him until late September. A run of ten appearances in eleven matches was subsequently cut short by the same injury in his other foot.
His second season, though, was the one that truly thrust the winger into the spotlight. Danjuma scored 17 goals and dished out 8 assists in all competitions last season as Bournemouth made the Championship play-offs, but missed out on promotion back to the Premier League after losing to Brentford in the semi-finals.
Arnaut Danjuma has now scored 17 goals in all competitions this season, the most by a Bournemouth player since 2014/15. Bagsman.
Brentford 0-1 Bournemouth (0-2 agg)
Updates: ⚽️📲 https://t.co/5Du5Yilmm1#bbcfootball #bbcefl #BREBOU pic.twitter.com/US2rS3F8YW
— BBC 5 Live Sport (@5liveSport) May 22, 2021
Arnaut Danjuma now joins Villarreal, who won the Europa League last season under Unai Emery. Despite the fact that they finished seventh in La Liga last campaign, the winger will be able to showcase his abilities and compete in the Champions League this season owing to Villarreal’s triumph against Manchester United in the Europa League final.
WHAT WILL HE BRING TO VILLARREAL?
Arnaut Danjuma, like his new Villarreal teammate Samuel Chukwueze, is a pacey dribbler with a highly precise touch even when sprinting and a remarkable ability to switch direction swiftly in 1v1 situations.
Furthermore, because of his deceiving build, defenders always have a difficult time outmuscling or catching him as he gets into his stride and starts running with the ball.
Naturally right-footed, the new Villarreal man mostly plays on the LW, looking to cut infield at every opportunity. With his close control, trickery, and powerful diagonal runs, he possesses a unique arsenal of skills that make him a constant threat. The opposition usually has to double-up on him to prevent his progression into the box.
10 – Arnaut Danjuma scored ten goals following a ball carry for Bournemouth in the English Championship 2020-21, more than any other player in the competition. Traveller. pic.twitter.com/gXrZ831r4z
— OptaJohan (@OptaJohan) August 18, 2021
One of the best things about the Dutch winger is that he isn’t context-dependent. He always has many paths from which to imbalance the defenses. From his maturity in his moves to his quality on the ball regardless of whether he is wide or in congested zones, to his presence in the box, Arnaut Anjuma embraces everything Villarreal had been missing on the left flank in a smart, menacing winger that can stretch the field and be threatening into space.