As political unrest sweeps the country, the best players of the Ukrainian Premier League could be on the move this summer.
Shakhtar Donetsk secured a memorable fifth consecutive Ukrainian Premier League title last weekend by beating Zorya Luhansk 3-1. However, the mood was dampened by the fact that the match was played in an empty stadium at a neutral venue in Cherkasy, central Ukraine, because of the widespread violence in the eastern part of the country.
Having celebrating their league triumph over the past few days, Shakhtar’s focus will now turn to retaining a squad whose future lies shrouded in uncertainty. With regular violence in the city of Donetsk and across Ukraine, many of Shakhtar’s Brazilian recruits are believed to want out.
Last month, Shakhtar’s Bernard, a reported Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur target, voiced concerns over his own safety in the war-torn province. The 23-year-old Brazil international, who will feature at the 2014 World Cup finals in his home country, said: ‘My parents and cousin live with me. I have already talked to the ambassador of Brazil about if it gets worst we can leave Ukraine as soon as possible. You cannot stay quiet. I have this concern, but it is now left in the hands of God’.
Bernard is just one of a number of talented youngsters who Premier League clubs may consider to recruit, as they prepare their summer transfer target lists. Skilful Brazilian duo Alex Teixeira and Douglas Costa, both valued at £25 million, are believed to be eyeing moves abroad this summer – both were rumoured to have interested Manchester United during the January transfer window.
Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk winger Yevhen Konoplyanka is also expected to leave Ukraine over the coming months. The 24-year-old was the subject of a failed January deadline-day move by Liverpool and is said to have remained on the radar of the Merseyside club.
With the country’s political tumult continuing and the Premier League clubs such as Liverpool and Manchester United monitoring the situation, the summer could see a massive player exodus from Ukraine, especially Shakhtar.