By Chris Harris
Julio Baptista was not the only Brazilian completing a move to Arsenal last week. While 'The Beast' was putting the finishing touches to his switch from Real Madrid, an 18-year-old with huge potential and a famous name joined him at Emirates Stadium.
The Denilson that most football fans know had a fine line in stepovers and starred for Real Betis as well as his country. The Denilson that Arsène Wenger has snapped up is Brazil's Under-19 captain and, like his namesake, hails from Sao Paulo.
Arsenal supporters who aren't students of the Brazilian game will know little of Arsenal's latest teenage talent so we asked Rodrigo Cuelo for an insight. According to the BBC Brazil reporter, Wenger has yet another gem on his hands.
"He only really emerged this year and has not been a regular for Sao Paulo, but technically he is very good," Cuelo told Arsenal.com. "He knows what to do with a ball, he is considered a leader and is quite a tough player with a lot of stamina.
"Like a lot of young players he needs to mature but he could develop while out on loan or in the Premiership, because it is a very different league to the one he is used to in Brazil.
"The Sao Paulo supporters are disappointed that he has gone because he is considered to be one of the best new players emerging from Sao Paulo.
"I would compare him to Elano, who scored twice against Argentina on Sunday. Like him, Denilson has started out as a central midfielder but looks like he will gradually play further forward and be more of a creative player.
"At the moment Denilson is a more defensive player, like Gilberto, and will maybe develop into more of a flair player. That is what people expect of Denilson and of course he has to prove he can do that."
Denilson would not be the first Brazilian to prosper at Arsenal. He and Baptista are following in the footsteps of Silvinho, Edu and Gilberto, all of whom coped with the English game and culture. Cuelo expects Denilson to adapt just as quickly.
"I think he will settle well because Arsenal offers a good structure," he said. "You see players like Silvinho, Gilberto and Edu, they felt at home there. They went there without speaking English but they felt at home enough to remain in the club for a long period.
"The structure, the manager and the fact that many players at Arsenal are foreigners makes it easier for a Brazilian to go there. The fact that Gilberto and now Julio Baptista are there will also help Denilson to settle into the English way of life.
"In truth, it should not be difficult for a person raised in Sao Paulo to adapt to London because they are both huge cities, busy places. If he was a guy from the countryside, used to a very peaceful, tropical life, it would be harder. As he is raised in Sao Paulo, I think he will adapt easier."
Either way, there will be plenty of people back home watching the Denilson story unfold. They are getting used to watching Brazilians make a splash at Arsenal, a trend which is making the Gunners a household name in that country.
"There will be a lot of interest in Denilson in Brazil because he is expected to become a big player," agrees Cuelo.
"The reputation of Arsenal is growing in Brazil. If you had asked me 10 years ago I would have said that not many people knew Arsenal, they would know Liverpool and Manchester United. But now Arsenal is a household name, you see kids with Arsenal shirts in the streets, they know that Gilberto, Silvinho and Edu played there. Arsenal are now very well known."
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