Football

Arsenal must rescue Brazil star from Ukraine nightmare

Arsenal should go back for Bernard this summer
Arsenal should go back for Bernard this summer.

It’s been a case of out of sight, out of mind for Brazilian sensation Bernard, who is keen to leave Ukraine due to the country’s current perilous predicament, at Shakhtar Donetsk.

Last summer, the 5ft 5in winger was regarded as one of South America’s brightest young talents after helping Atletico Mineiro defy the odds to win the Copa Libertadores - South America’s equivalent of the Champions League - for the first time in the club’s history.

Bernard stuck up an exciting partnership with Ronaldinho and Jo - and together the trio inspired Galo to glory over Olimpia of Paraguay in the Libertadores final.

The upwards trajectory of Bernard’s career then continued at last summer’s Confederations Cup, where the youngster made a series of impressive cameo displays.

A big-money move to a major European club was inevitable - Bernard, it seemed, was destined for the big time and the bright lights of the Champions League.

Arsenal were interested in signing the diminutive playmaker, but in the end he was told he would be joining Shakhtar, who produced the biggest offer - around £21.5m - for his services.

How much say Bernard had in the matter is questionable, although the club’s Brazilian contingent, the opportunity to play in the Champions League and, of course, the large pay packet meant he was initially excited about the prospect of moving onto the next chapter in his career.

However, seven months down the line and things haven’t exactly gone to plan for the South American ace at the Donbass Arena.

Bernard has made just 14 appearances for the club - most of which have come from the subs’ bench - scoring one solitary goal.

Watching his compatriot Fernandinho shine in the Premier League with Manchester City this season after spending eight years at Shakhtar - and given the scary situation in Ukraine at the moment - Bernard must be praying that a club like Arsenal renew their interest in him this summer.

Still just 21, and blessed with magnificent natural ability, Arsene Wenger should seriously consider taking a chance on the Brazil international.

A bid of around £25m could tempt Shakhtar into selling Bernard, who will not be playing much football between now and the end of the season with the Ukrainian Premier League currently on hold.

There’s a temptation to believe that, because he is skillful, fast and young, Bernard must be poor at doing the basics - or else he would have joined a bigger club.

However, the player proved in Brazil that he is bright as a button. As well as the flicks, tricks and pace, Bernard can also pick a pass, track back and take a dangerous set-piece. He can also play off either the left or right flank, making him a manager's dream.

Wenger can help fine-tune aspects of his game and turn him into the world beater that he undoubtedly could become with the right coaching.

All he needs to do is get the chequebook out.

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