Shakhtar Donetsk manager Mircea Lucescu has chosen to go public with a damning indictment of Brazilian playmaker Bernard's professionalism, admitting that a long-term transfer target of Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur could be ready to move on in search of a fresh challenge this season.
Bernard's arrival in Ukraine last summer was quite a coup for Shakhtar, but quite simply the move hasn't worked out for either party.
The 21-year-old has been consistently linked with the Premier League and is thought to be available for a fee of around £19m, with Lucescu ready to sanction his exit after not hearing from the star for three months.
Lucescu feels let down
Shakhtar's vastly experienced Romanian coach was asked about Bernard's situation by Globo Esporte and pulled no punches, declaring: "The way he behaves is not normal, has no explanation.
"In 40 years of my coaching career I had never encountered before me with a situation like this I'm watching him. We parted Bernard on May 15, after the Cup final (Ukraine). Well now will have to do almost three months we did not see it.
"If Bernard take a more serious stance and return to the club that signed him for five years, then maybe something will change. But I do not know when it will appear.
"Bernard is a talented player with good footballing qualities, but maybe his place is in Western Europe or Brazil."
Bernard uses Twitter to bite back
Lucescu's comments received a swift response from the pass master on Twitter last night, further strengthening the view that the damaged relationship between player and coach may be beyond repair.
Bernard was angry his World Cup commitments had not been taken into account when Lucescu threw a three-month absence out into the public domain, replying: "3 months, since the cup is just one month. You need maths class."
It now remains to be seen if Shakhtar attempt to get their highest-earning Brazilian off the wage bill before the transfer window slams shut, with ongoing political unrest close to home threatening to end the club's fantastic track record of importing stars from South America over the last decade.
Who could be in for Bernard?
Unfortunately for Bernard the timing of his very public spat looks poorly timed in terms of making a lucrative move aboard.
Liverpool have been in the market for quality players all summer but now look stocked to the brim in Bernard's favoured left-sided position, with Adam Lallana, Raheem Sterling and new £20m man Lazar Markovic all capable of flourishing in that role.
Arsenal meanwhile have prioritised the addition of a central defender and already have a plethora of attacking options, while Spurs have resisted the temptation to chase expensive alternatives during the close season.
That means Bernard's best bet may be a short-term switch to his native Brazil, but there's still time for any of Europe's biggest clubs to chase a player with immense potential and Champions League experience at a reasonable price.
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