Douglas Costa 22 Midfielder Shakhtar Donetsk
There is much to ponder about Douglas Costa as he plays his way through his fourth season with Shakhtar Donetsk.
On one hand, here sits a player that has supposedly had the best of European football watching him, coveting him and seemingly doing their utmost to sound him out for the last four years since he was the subject of much hullabaloo as he broke through at Grêmio in Brazil. On the other hand, it’s rather difficult to accept the hype when no-one has finally broke and forked out the cash to snag a player that is supposedly on the wish list of Manchester United every time a transfer window opens.
He remains a Shakhtar Donetsk player and with the greatest respect to Shakhtar and the Ukrainian league, it just isn’t an overly attractive league to play in. Especially so for a South American talent who no doubt grew up watching his Brazilian idols departing for the shores of Europe’s really big leagues. He isn’t staying with Donetsk because of a deep rooted love of the club or city.
There can be few doubts about Costa’s actual footballing skills. His ability to run at pace and still cast a spell over the ball is truly wonderful and it was that dribbling that grew early comparisons with Lionel Messi and Robinho. That is most certainly where the similarity with the world’s best player ends. Unfortunately, Costa lets himself down with the number of runs that tend to just peter out and amount to nothing.
Douglas Costa doesn’t produce the goods down the left flank for his club side consistently enough for any of those rumours to be nothing more than fluff. It was probably those worries that caused Manchester United to include a certain caveat in their supposed deal to sign the youngster when he was still a teenager with Grêmio. “Subject to a successful trial” it read.
They weren’t letting the kid leave Brazil without the insurance that they could send him back if they found he was incapable of producing the goods on a cold, Wednesday night in Stoke (hang on, did we do these jokes last year?).
Sir Alex Ferguson did once describe the man himself as “probably the best young player in South America”. However, it’s challenging not to agree that Manchester United have been ultimately proved right on Costa; even if he is potentially everything that they lack in midfield at the moment. His pace and energy are two ingredients sorely lacking in the engine room of the Old Trafford side. His eye for a pass wouldn’t hurt either; as long as he has time to work or manoeuvre the ball on to his left foot.
For now, potential is all that he remains to show. At 22 and with four years already on the clock in Donetsk, the time remaining for it all to be realised must be dwindling. Unfortunately, he just isn’t becoming the player that he promised and his lack of consistency is starting to lessen his playing time. Five of his 15 league appearances this season have come off the bench. So have his three Champions League appearances. Previously, it would have been odd not to see Douglas in the starting line-up on big European nights. More worryingly for the 22 year-old will be the fact that his team-mates have got on pretty well without him.
Where previously, Douglas Costa would have been the name on everyone’s lips as tricky Shakhtar Donetsk rolled into town for a Champions League fixture; the honour is now bestowed on others. Fellow Brazilians Willian and Fernandinho as well as Armenian Henrikh Mkhitaryan have been much more deserving of the headlines for Shakhtar in the last 12 months.
As with many of the others on The 100, Douglas Costa still has time on his side. At just 22 and with a solid five years of playing time behind him, he’s further on that most in his position. Yet, there was an expectation that he’d be taking Ukrainian football by storm by now. Shakhtar are probably the most Brazilian club in European football and yet Douglas Costa de Souza (something of a predictable long name don’t you think?) just isn’t winning as many matches and points as he should.
The bursts of brilliance are enough for now. They’ll keep a few clubs interested for the next 12 months though his eventual suitors will probably be more than a step below the Barcelona’s, Real Madrid’s and Manchester United’s of the world.
"Still fantastically inconsistent, which considering the amount of time he’s been around is quite a feat. Doesn’t resemble the player we all thought he was going to be, but maybe one day something will just click - he certainly has the ability.” Jeff Livingstone (IBWM)
C- Allowed others to overtake him, but has enough to catch-up