Shakhtar Donetsk have been Ukraine’s dominant side for the entire 21st century.
Their first Ukrainian Premier League title came in 2002 and they’ve added eight titles since. Dynamo Kiev have put a halt to Shakhtar’s success, being crowned champions in each of the past two seasons, but it’s still a remarkable streak.
Shakhtar haven’t made as much of an impact in Europe, however. Aside from winning the UEFA Cup in 2009, the Miners have reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League just once.
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Paulo Fonseca’s team were beaten by Young Boys in the third qualifying round of this season’s competition, demoting them to the Europa League.
Shakhtar have won both of their group games in Europe’s inferior competition and are riding high atop the Ukrainian Premier League with nine wins in 10 games and a six-point lead over Dynamo.
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Yet there must be an urgency around the Donbass Arena to become a team recognised as a threat in the Champions League. Shakhtar seem stuck between being one of the best teams in their country but some way beneath the level required to compete with Europe’s best.
Part of the reason for that, of course, is that they are very much a selling club. Shakhtar nurture talent but are unable to prevent them leaving when the big boys come knocking.
With inspiration from Squawka, GiveMeSport has a look at what Shaktar’s team might look like if they hadn’t sold anyone. You’ll notice a bit of a Brazilian theme…
GK | Andriy Pyatov | Shakhtar Donetsk
Pyatov has made over 300 appearances for the Ukranian club since joining in 2007.
RB | Darijo Srna | Shakhtar Donetsk
Arguably Shakhtar’s most recognised player, Srna has had plenty of opportunities to sign for a bigger club but has remained loyal.
CB | Oleksandr Kucher | Shakhtar Donetsk
Kucher has played at the heart of Shakhtar’s defence for 10 years since arriving from Metalist Kharkiv.
CB | Yaroslav Rakitskiy | Shakhtar Donetsk
One constant at the Donbass Arena has been the centre-back pairing. Rakitskiy joined the Miners in 2003 and has been a first-teamer since 2009, making his debut at the age of 20.
LB | Razvan Rat | Rayo Vallecano
West Ham fans will remember the name. Rat played for Shakhtar for 10 years before joining the Hammers and was a part of the team that beat Werder Bremen in the 2009 Uefa Cup final.
DM | Fernandinho | Manchester City
Pep Guardiola has attributed Manchester City’s excellent start to the season to the Brazilian, claiming any team would win the title if they had three Fernandinhos.
The 31-year-old made nearly 300 appearances for Shakhtar across eight seasons before joining City in 2013 for roughly £30 million.
RM | Willian | Chelsea
Chelsea revived Willian’s career after he left Shaktar for Anzhi Makhachkala in 2013.
The Brazilian showed last season just why Chelsea were happy to pay £30m for him, winning the club’s Player of the Year award with several scintillating performances.
LM | Henrikh Mkhitaryan | Manchester United
Mkhitaryan’s summer move to Manchester United hasn’t worked out as planned just yet, with injuries preventing him from actually getting on the pitch, but there’s no doubting his talent.
He established himself as an exceptional playmaker at Borussia Dortmund, scoring 11 goals and scoring 15 assists in the Bundesliga last season.
LW | Bernard | Shakhtar Donetsk
A speedy, skilful winger, Bernard was included in Brazil’s squad for the 2014 World Cup.
RW | Douglas Costa | Bayern Munich
Costa’s sensational performances in Ukraine earned him a big-money move to Bayern Munich in 2015.
ST | Alex Teixeira | Jiangsu Suning
Teixeira’s move to China is a waste of talent, but Shakhtar were never going to say no when Jiangsu Suning’s £38m bid came in.
He scored 26 goals in 25 games in the 2015-16 season before moving to China this past February.