PHILIPPE Clement has revealed that he attempted to sign Danilo from Ajax during his trophy-laden spell in charge of Club Brugge as he predicted the Brazilian striker can go from strength to strength at Rangers.

Danilo has struggled to justify his £5.6m transfer fee since moving to Ibrox from Dutch giants Feyenoord during the summer – but he came off the bench to net an injury-time winner in the cinch Premiership triumph over Hearts in Govan on Sunday.

Clement, whose team take on Dundee at Dens Park in the league tonight, was unsurprised at the impact the 24-year-old forward, who suffered a bad facial injury against St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park in September, made at the weekend.

The Belgian spoke to the South American about joining him at the Jan Breydel Stadium, where he won back-to-back Pro League titles and the Belgian Super Cup, when the players was not featuring regularly in the first team at the Johan Cruyff Arena. 

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“I knew him when he was at Ajax and I was at Brugge,” he said. “We talked about him at the moment when he was struggling to get into the team at Ajax. He was going to leave in January I think. We had some talks about that. But finally it did not happen.

“So I knew him already for a long time. I think he is someone with potential, but who also still needs to learn a lot of the details of what the job is. But he has the potential to grow. And I think this is a good environment for him.” 

The Herald: Rangers match winner Danilo at Ibrox tonightClement added: “It is important to have personality. People who stand up in difficult moments. But it does not mean the only players I put on the pitch are the guys who are laughing and are always happy to come in. It is more than that.

“The decision making is about a lot of things – about mentality, about what they show in training and about their physical ability and technical qualities. It is also about complementing other players, that is also crucial. It is always a big ball where you see all the different things.

“We, as in the staff, are also the ones who see the players every day and know how they come in. We know for example if they have a new baby and they are not sleeping well and because of that they are less fresh and showing less quality and because of that they are not themselves. 

“But I don’t believe in saying that a player can grow to this or that level, because there are players who can surprise you and go beyond that level. There are also players who never reach that level. 

“It’s our responsibility as a staff to give them all the tools they need to become the best players they can be. In every sense, physically, technically, tactically, mentally.  We have to work with them every day to make progression and then it’s about players taking these tools and using them. 

“That’s what we’re going to do, like it was in my other clubs. And then it’s about players taking responsibility.  But he’s a young player with potential to grow, that’s for sure.”

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Meanwhile, Clement confessed that he was looking forward to meeting up with a man who was helpful to him when he was starting out in the professional game and was a player at Coventry City in England this evening – Dundee director of football Gordon Strachan.

“It will be nice,” he said. “I have great respect for him. I had a really good time there at Coventry together with him. Also his wife Lesley was very nice to my wife and my small boy, at that moment. It was a long, long time ago. I also had a lot more hair. I hope he still recognises me! But it will be great to see him again.”

The Herald: