Manchester United have resurrected their longstanding interest in Douglas Costa, the 20-year-old Brazilian who was once hailed as "the new Ronaldinho" and has been on Sir Alex Ferguson's radar for the past four years.
Costa, a part of the Shakhtar Donetsk side that have reached the Champions League quarter-finals, was a guest of the club for the 1-0 defeat of Bolton Wanderers, sitting in the directors' box alongside several of his representatives and United officials.
The club would not make any official comment but the Observer has been told Ferguson still has a serious interest in the player almost two years after he first tried to sign him from the Brazilian club Gremio. The proposed deal fell through at the time and Costa eventually moved to Skakhtar for a cut-price €6m in January 2010. After a slow start, he has become a key member of Mircea Lucescu's squad, scoring 15 goals in 61 appearances.
The fee may constitute a problem, though, with Shakhtar understood to want a sizeable profit if they are to lose the Under-20 international. Costa's advisers have been led to believe that may be a minimum £20m.
Ferguson, however, has long rated Costa among the more exciting young talents to emerge from South America, after coming to his attention via the club's extensive scouting network in Brazil. Costa has indicated he would like to move to England, despite having four years of his contract to run.
Costa helped Brazil to victory in the South American Youth Championship in 2009, scoring three goals in the process, but United's interest in the player dates back to when he was 16. Gremio is the club where Ronaldinho made his breakthrough and Costa has obvious similarities in terms of his ability to run with the ball and beat opponents, operating on either flank or in an advanced midfield position.
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