A week is a long time in football, so four years is more akin to lifetime. But in the summer of 2009, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson asked Brazilian club Gremio if he could take an 18-year-old Douglas Costa on trial.
The player had long been linked with a move to Old Trafford, perhaps more so than any other at that time. But his club rejected the suggestion, claiming Costa was too good for a trial. United could either sign him based on what they already knew, or they could move on.
As it was, they chose the latter. And the story took an unexpected twist when Costa later moved to Shakhtar Donetsk for a reported fee of €12million.
With Ferguson now departed and Costa settled in the Ukraine, the story of his once-touted move to United appeared dead. But when David Moyes’ side were drawn against Shakhtar in the group stage of this season’s Champions League, it transpired that the Brazilian would be playing at Old Trafford after all.
Now 23, the attacking midfielder is the Ukrainian side’s crown jewel. And as if to prove it, he gave United quite a warning with his latest strike in a 3-2 defeat against domestic rivals Karpaty on Friday.
Briefly levelling the scores at 1-1, Costa scored a sublime free-kick that will make David De Gea and his defence anxious should any fouls be committed around the United box.
Just as Lucas Moura was linked time and again with United only to ultimately switch to PSG, could Costa be the other great young Brazilian to have passed them by?
Having watched the free-kick that you can see below, the answer appears to be yes.