Danilo was born in Guinea-Bissau but moved to Portugal at the age of five with his family. He received his footballing education in Lisbon at Benfica, among others. However, he was not offered a professional contract there so he left for Italian club Parma. Following loan spells at Greek side Aris Thessaloniki and Dutch outfit Roda Kerkrade, Danilo settled at Maritimo in 2013 and went on to establish himself in the first team. He had two excellent seasons there and attracted the interest of FC Porto, who signed him in summer 2015. Danilo has been a cornerstone in central midfield ever since.
He opted to represent Portugal at international level and was part of the team that finished runners-up at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Colombia 2011. He played in all seven games there and found the net in a 2-0 victory over France in the semi-finals. His first senior cap for Portugal came in March 2015 in a friendly against Cape Verde, while he was also included in the squad at UEFA EURO 2016, where he made five appearances.