Porto coach Julen Lopetegui says that newly-confirmed Real Madrid signing Danilo has improved greatly during the current campaign to reach the level where Los Blancos have agreed to pay €31.5 million for his signature.
Danilo, 23, has earned rave reviews this season to help Porto reach the Champions League quarterfinals, while also becoming first-choice in the Brazil senior national team.
This had led to speculation that Barcelona had identified the right-back as the long-term successor to compatriot Dani Alves at the Camp Nou, but Madrid have moved first by officially announcing terms had been agreed with Porto and the player, with the Portuguese club confirming the fee.
- Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadriden) March 31, 2015
Former Madrid player, youth coach and scout Lopetegui, who has impressed as Porto boss this season, told AS that Danilo had made big strides in his game through the current campaign.
"This year he has wanted to improve in all aspects of play: tactically, physically, and in concentration," Lopetegui said. "This individual improvement has helped the team to grow collectively.
"He has made progress because he very quickly understood what we were asking of him and, like the rest of the team, he has wanted to improve and help the team, despite being a young player."
The expensive deal has surprised some pundits in Spain, with home-grown Dani Carvajal, 23, having made the right-back position his own this season.
But it fits Real's apparent policy of snapping up young talent, with Brazilian midfielder Lucas Silva, Norwegian youngster Martin Odegaard and Spain under-21 playmaker Marco Asensio all being signed by Los Blancos in recent months.
Madrid are also reportedly aiming to strengthen on the other side of their back four, with young Valencia left-back Jose Gaya a target according to widespread reports in the local press.
The 19-year-old's current contract contains an €18 million buy-out clause, which has led Valencia to look to protect their interest by offering him an improved deal with a bigger security clause.
Talks on that deal have yet to reach any conclusion, but Los Che president Amadeo Salvo said he is confident a deal can be done in a statement also covering the fate of Valencia's Dani Parejo, Sofiane Feghouli and Pablo Piatti.
"We said that between January and March we would contact the players whose contracts we wanted to renew," Salvo told AS. "We have spoken with the agents and the process has begun.
"Each one has its own timing and we are working on those left to finish. Our feeling is positive. As the weeks go on there will be more news."