It’s not often Sir Alex Ferguson misses a trick. And it’s even rarer he swallows his pride, admits he was wrong, and makes it right. But that’s exactly what Fergie is rumoured to be doing this summer.
Rewind two years and you will have seen Manchester United being linked with then-18 year old Douglas Costa of Gremio. Dubbed ‘the new Ronaldinho’, Sir Alex looked set to bring the Brazilian wonderkid to Old Trafford, only to back out at the last minute. That left Shakhtar Donetsk to swoop in and take Costa to Ukraine for a bargain €6million.
His move from Gremio automatically drew comparisons to the clubs most famous ex-player, Ronaldinho, but Douglas Costa has more to his game than ‘Ronnie’. Whilst they both possess fantastic dribbling skills, Ronaldinho never had quite the same quickness across the ground as Costa. He seems to effortlessly glide across the pitch, shifting inside and out with no hesitation, his balance being one of his best attributes. To watch him dribble, he is more similar to Robinho. But his captain at Donetsk, Darijo Srna, thinks he is even better than that:
“I’ve never seen such lightness of play, he is on a par with (Lionel) Messi. The speed at which he takes players on is out of this world,” Srna told uefa.com
“He can take three players on with ease. Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool have all watched him. he is destined for a big club,” Srna added.
Add to this his deadly delivery from set-pieces and outstanding all-round technique and you begin to question just why Fergie didn’t snap him up when he had the chance.
After an initially slow start for Mircea Lucescu’s team, Costa finished his first season in the Ukraine with eight goals, most coming as a substitute, as he made 26 appearances for the Pitmen. This season has seen Costa cement his place in the starting line-up and make his Champions League debut. He has scored two goals as Shakhtar progressed to the quarter-finals and been impressive in almost every game.
A goal in 0-3 away win at Braga coupled with two assists catapulted Costa into the eyes of Europe’s watching giants. Sublime reverse passes for both assists the evidence of his fantastic vision. This performance was added to by a wonderful bending strike in the Olimpico against Roma. The goal epitomised Costa as he picked the ball up ten yards inside the Roma half, dribbled to the edge of the area, cut in onto his magical left-foot (though he is proficient with both) and curled the ball into the far corner past a despairing Doni.
It’s the sort of goal that would have made Fergie spit his Famous Grouse out as he watched from the comfort of his home.
And, unlike countless numbers of his compatriots, Douglas Costa is not a man for the spotlight, or the nightclubs:
“I’m someone with a very strong personality, I’m quite introverted,” Costa told FIFA.com
“I had quite a tumultuous start to my career, but I learned from that. Now I try not to get involved in any hype whatsoever,” he added.
Costa has been a part of Brazil squads and training camps, but has yet to make an appearance for A Seleção, but his involvement in the training camps show he isn’t hindered by playing in Eastern Europe: “Given that I’m so far away in the Ukraine, it makes it even more pleasing that A Seleção haven’t forgotten me,” Costa said.
Along with Brazil, there may be a Scotsman in Manchester who hasn’t forgotten about you either, Douglas.