The 26-year-old has put his mishaps in the Spanish capital well behind him and has made an impressive start with Man City as he targets Selecao return
Danilo needed a fresh start.
"It was very fast, I was training with Real Madrid, Pep called me and I was very motivated to make this change and start to work with him," Danilo told reporters.
"[Zidane] did [try to convince me to stay] but I was sure I needed to change.”
A Copa Libertadores winner as a teenager with Santos, a subsequent switch to Porto had taken him to the next level.
In Portugal, Danilo had found a natural position, too. After regularly featuring in midfield for Santos, he became a settled right-back and established himself as one Europe’s best.
A host of Europe’s biggest clubs came calling, with Real Madrid eventually winning the race for his signature by shelling out a cool €31.5 million.
But things didn’t go well in the Spanish capital, at least not on a personal level. Danilo left Spain this past summer with five major titles, including two UEFA Champions League winners-medals, and yet his career had reached crisis point.
Struggling to deal with the increased technical level he found in Spain, Danilo quickly lost his place in the team and was harshly singled out for criticism among Madridistas around the globe, many pointing out that, in the 2015-16 campaign, he’d featured in every minute of every single defeat the side suffered.
"The media pressure is the largest in the world, without doubt," Danilo told SporTV. "An error, no matter how small, goes viral. A mistake becomes very great even if it is very small.”
A series of high-profile, though mostly minor, errors, had shattered Danilo’s confidence. But others still believed in his potential, with Juventus and Chelsea both having attempted to lure him from Madrid.
For Danilo, however, there was only ever one option. "It wasn't a difficult decision to choose Man City over Chelsea. The moment City called me and Pep called me, I knew what I had to do."
His summer switch to Manchester has proved a turning point. Under Guardiola Danilo is rebuilding his reputation – so much so, this month he was recalled to the Brazil squad after last appearing for his country in 2015.
The role of reserve right-back is one of the few positions ostensibly open in Tite’s settled squad.
Corinthians’ Fagner was given a few opportunities but failed to really impress. Despite being a favourite of the coach from his time at the Timao, Fagner could lose his role as Dani Alves’ understudy.
It now appears Danilo’s for the taking, and the versatility that attracted Pep – he is also comfortable at left-back or in central midfield – could yet prove decisive. He’s started only three of Man City’s sixPremier League fixtures, but has appeared in five.
“He will be so important,’ Guardiola said this month. “He can play in the three at the back, he can play full-back - right or left. He can also play holding midfielder.
“He also knows how to handle the pressure because he's been at Madrid and Porto - clubs where every weekend you have to win. That’s where his mentality comes from and that’s why he’s so important to us.”
Danilo hasn't felt important for a while.
“It doesn't matter if I'm on the right, the left or in midfield, I just want to help the team,” he told the Manchester Evening News. “It's a good thing because I will have more chance to play.”
He may yet have more chance for his country, too. At 26, Danilo’s career appears to be getting back on track.