Out of all the teams in the Champions League this season you could easily put a case forward for Shakhtar Donetsk being perhaps the most inspiring and exciting team in the competition. The defence is modelled on Barcelona’s now famous splitting centre backs dynamic and with stalwart wing-backs Razvan Rat and Darijo Srna running the flanks they have attacking influence coming from all over the pitch. While Willian has been gaining the transfer rumours, Henrikh Mkhitaryan the goals and Andriy Pyatov the criticism arguably their best player is finally getting the recognition he deserves.
Fernandinho defines the term box-to-box midfielder. Sitting in and shielding his sometimes leaky back four when in defence and bursting forward with tremendous speed and skill when in attack it is he who dictates the somewhat basketball like tempo of the Ukrainian giants football.
Against Chelsea, both home and away, he was the stand-out player from either side. Shakhtar were magnificent in both fixtures but Fernandinho truly bossed the show and made John Obi Mikel look largely ordinary by comparison. His goal in Ukraine was the winner and was it not for a late Victor Moses goal and sloppy goalkeeping from the calamitous Pyatov Donetsk would have walked away from Stamford Bridge with at least one point to shout about.
At 27 he has now been at the club for seven years and finally he is getting the widespread praise he deserves for his solid performances both domestically and on the continent during that time period. If any of the Shakhtar players suit the Premier Leagues all fire and brimstone speed of play there is no doubt it is ‘Little Fernando’ with his ferocious shooting ability also a threat worth an extra couple of million on top of any transfer fee.
Currently Shakhtar have a 100% record in the Ukrainian Premier League and this lack of competitive opposition is reportedly starting to disillusion some of the old-guard at the Donbass Arena, including Fernandinho.
He is now on five caps for Brazil and becoming a regular for Selecao and as recently as last week he made his intentions to one day play in the Premier League very clear:
"If I had the opportunity to play in the Premier League I think that my qualities would improve even further," he said.
‘’These last years we have seen new, more aggressive players with very diverse styles, which make the games even more interesting. If I could combine all these roles, I could give considerable value to the Premier League. I like England a lot. It is a beautiful country and if I had the opportunity to live here, it would be very good for me and my family."
So should he be the Premier League’s number one target in January?
image: © jbl767