Donetsk: The Brazilian footballer's home from home

Donbass Arena Shakhtar

Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur have both been linked with Brazilians in Donetsk, so why are they there in the first place?

Shakhtar's impressive performances in Europe in the past few years is partly due to the pull they now have over young Brazilians heading to Europe.

It has always been a path well trodden, young Brazilians leaving their domestic league is search of greater fame and fortune in Europe, but recently they have been heading further and further East.

This has culminated in the plethora of Brazilians now based at Ukrainian club Shakhtar Donetsk. Their influence was very apparent in Shakhtar's recent draw at Juventus in the Champions League, in a game where they actually deserved to win.

Having a collection of talented young footballers is clearly good for the Ukrainian club but given that Brazilian player based in Eastern Europe have been unlikely to get called up for the national side in the past, what are the main benefits for the footballers themselves?

The first is, of course, financial. The players are well rewarded for their time in the Ukraine, with reports even suggesting that the first couple of years of their huge contracts are paid upfront on occasion.

However the financial incentive is clearly not the only reason Brazilians are flocking to Donetsk. The club have an amazing set up, and have gone out of their way to be particularly welcoming to the incoming South American stars.

The club stadium, the 51,000 seater Donbass Arena, opening only a couple of years ago. The Kirsha training centre is amongst the best in Europe. The whole club reeks of ambition, and they have the financial backing to try and achieve it.

Shakhtar won the UEFA cup in 2009, and are starting to look like they may be able to challenge in the Champions League. If they can qualify from their group this year, ahead of one of Chelsea or Juventus, they may be able to even better than they did in 2010-11, when they reached the quarter finals.

Their current squad includes nine Brazilian players, of which there are four who have repeatedly caught the eye overseas. Willian, Fernandinho, Alex Teixeira and Luiz Adriano would be comfortable in most of the teams playing in the Champions League, with Willian a target for Tottenham and Chelsea over the recent summer.

However Shakhtar have been able to keep hold of their stars more and more comfortably. They offer good wages, superb facilities, a suqad laden with Brazilian compatriots and, increasingly, a chance to compete at the highest level in Europe. It's not too difficult why so many Brazilians are making the trip to Ukraine.

image: © jbl767

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