Despite some patchy form in Ukraine for Shakhtar, the performances of Douglas Costa in The Champions League have highlighted why Manchester United have spent three years chasing ‘the new Ronaldinho…’
Following 36 minutes of threatening behaviour at the Stadio Olimpico in the Shakhtar Donetsk vs Roma game on February 16, Douglas Costa received the ball on the right, threw the entire Roma defence with a glance to the flank, cut inside and bent a glorious left-footed strike into the Roma net. If Ranieri looked defeated and John Arne Riise flummoxed, then nobody at Old Trafford would have been surprised.
In 2008, Alex Ferguson tried to persuade Gremio to allow Costa to come to Old Trafford on a 20-day trial with Manchester United, with Ferguson calling him ‘the best young South-American in world football’. Gremio, the Porto Alegre club who also gave the world Ronaldinho, were incensed. Believing that Douglas was already good enough to play at the top level in Europe, they told Fergie where to go and the player instead joined Shakhtar for £10m.
Manchester United fans might well wonder why Ferguson, who has since happily spent £7.8m on Bebe without seeing him play, was so reticent to shell out little more than that on a player he had extensively tracked. While there is no official line on this, many suspect that he was so let down by Anderson after a promising start that he lost faith in South American players. That, and the fact he is so obsessed with replacing Paul Scholes that he feels the need to over-analyse potential replacements.
I’ve never seen such nimbleness – he is on a par with Messi. His speed with the ball and technique are out of this world
The main concern for here is that Costa is in no way a like-for-like replacement for Scholes. Despite performing for the Brazilian U-20 team in a more central role, Costa is, for now at least, a winger. Comparisons with Ronaldinho are also unfair. Whereas the former best player in the world played as a genuine inside-forward who would drop to the left and rely on bewitching close control, Costa plays on the right for the majority and does his work from deep.
From what I have seen the player he most resembles is Nani (or even a young CR7) relying on blistering pace, two-equally good feet and a nice line in tricks that keep the ball away from the outstretched legs of defenders. And with rumours circulating that the weeping one fancies a move to Italy, then Costa could come in as a direct replacement.
Despite concerns that an impressive performance in the Champions League against Barcelona could turn the head of Pep Guardiola, it seems that Ferguson is striving to get a deal done similar to the Black Ops mission that saw Javier Hernandez signed and sealed before the World Cup, and also that the player has his heart set on Manchester. “I like the style of Manchester United, he says, “and, if I could choose, I would prefer to go there.”
His club captain, the rugged Darijo Srna, believes the Old Trafford fans will be hailing a new hero. “I’ve never seen such nimbleness – he is on a par with Messi. His speed with the ball and technique are out of this world.”
High praise indeed. Fergie better him sign up soon or risk missing out.
Click here for more Football and Sport stories
Click here to follow Sabotage Times on Twitter
Click here to follow Sabotage Times on Facebook