Manchester City's new signing Fernandinho moved to the Premier League recently and this brings into sharp focus the sheer number of his compatriots plying their trade at the Donbass Arena.
A glittering array of imports off the shores of Brazil have played a major role in establishing Shakhtar Donetsk as a force to be reckoned with in European football.
The ‘Brazilian colony’, as it has come to be known, has seen numerous Brazilians come and go. Among them are the likes of Brandao, Matuzalem, Jadson, Willian and more.
Remarkably, they keep being replaced by their own kind. There seems to be an exodus of South Americans to Eastern Europe lured by the riches of the Russian oligarchs.
Contrastingly, Brazil’s national team has rarely featured players from this region. For instance, the current Selecao boss, Luiz Felipe Scolari, has only called up one player based in that area, Zenit’s Hulk.
After completing his £30million move to City, he admitted that one reason he agreed to move to Eastlands was to boost his chances of getting a look-in for his national team. “The national team was certainly something that I took into account," the 28-year-old told O Globo.
Fernandinho has undoubted talent. The box-to-box midfielder is dynamic, strong in the tackle, has a keen eye for a pass and keeps the ball well yet only has five international caps to his name.
That is a paltry return for a player of his capabilities. Shakhtar played some fantastic free-flowing football last season, especially in the Champions League. Chelsea and Juventus struggled to handle their fluent attacking football and Fernandinho was at the centre of it all.
Shakhtar wrapped up the domestic title and cup in Ukraine with relative ease. Willian, Teixeira, Fernandinho, Costa and Taison carried the team through the season with brilliant performances.
Anzi paid a monumental fee for Willian earlier in the season, testament to just how highly rated these players are at the Donbass Arena.
It is obvious to see why Scolari and previous Selecao managers seldom cast their nets east of Europe. Football in those parts is rarely watched especially in Brazil therefore these players rarely come to the fore when considerations for team selections are done.
Add that to the fact that there is a perceived low standard associated with these leagues and you can easily see why. This, despite the fact that Shakhtar are currently ranked 13th in Europe by UEFA.
Another reason could be the absence of local clamour for their inclusion in their native Brazil. Most of these players did not spend enough time with their clubs before moving to Europe. Luiz Adriano, Willian and Fernandinho spent relatively short spells at home therefore did not really get to establish themselves in that respect, unlike someone like Hernanes who is well known throughout Brazil for his spell at Sao Paulo.
Hopefully Fernandinho’s move to the Premier League will cast a spotlight where he has left translating into more attention being given to those Brazilians plying their trade in these regions. However, one thing is certain, over and above anything else, Shakhter will persist their conveyor belt of South American talent.
21 Brazilians have been at the club since 2002 and with Fernandinho’s departure for such a monumental sum, the probability of youngsters such as Nem to follow suit has definitely increased.
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