Hailed as ‘The New Ronaldinho’ and claimed to be the subject of very intense haggling between Premier League champions Manchester United and Gremio. This young Brazilian is touted as the next big thing to be exported from South America. But who exactly is Douglas Costa? The Transfer Tavern asked Football Fancast columnist The New Voice of Football to investigate.
Armed with wheelbarrows full of cash, United boss Sir Alex Ferguson is frantically trying to fill the huge chasm left at Old Trafford by the departures of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez. Having signed Michael Owen and Antonio Valencia another name being heavily touted to arrive at the Premiership giants is 18-year-old Douglas Costa. A playmaker, who, despite having only a handful of senior games under his belt is already demanding a £20million price tag.
Indeed after the young Samba prodigy started to appear on the radar of some of Europe’s powerhouses. La Liga giants Real Madrid and Barcelona together with Serie A side Juventus monitoring Douglas as well as United. Gremio quickly tied Douglas to a new deal at the Olimpico Monumental until 2013, with a buy-out clause of £20million last October.
Despite the attention, Douglas was modest in his reaction to being linked with some of the world’s biggest clubs, saying: “I don’t have think about this. I only have that to play football. I face this with calmness. I am not a star.”
However, Gremio always fully intended to cash in on Douglas and believe he is a star or at the very least a cash cow, which is why they moved quickly to tie him to a long deal, with the massive buy-out clause.
His agent confirming the interest from Europe after the playmaker starred in the South American Youth Championships earlier this year, where Douglas was the stand out player in the Brazilian side that won the tournament.
“We know that many people from various European clubs have come to Brazil to see Douglas,” said his agent in February.
“Some have seen him play for the Under 20 national side and since then we have been unable to declare our public appreciation. He showed many qualities and it is normal people will like him.”
Some reports suggesting that Ferguson is keen to broker some sort of deal for Douglas, but is loathed to meet Gremio’s buy-out clause and valuation of £20million. The canny Scot said to favour an instalment plan of payments for the teenager based on performances and development, which would start with an initial £7million down payment.
One other factor in whether Douglas arrives at United is the Brazilian’s reputation for being a bit of a party animal and is gaining just as much notoriety for his performances off the pitch as on them.
Douglas arrested last week for driving without a valid license, something he has already been fined for by the Brazilian constabulary and although the teenager insists he doesn’t touch a drop of alcohol. Douglas is still apparently late for training on a regular basis. How would that go down with Fergie?
So the Brazilian represents somewhat of a headache for Sir Alex, but should he decide take a gamble and successfully negotiate the passage of Douglas to England. Just what would United be getting in a Brazilian, that is not going to come cheap? The ‘New Ronaldinho’ they say?
Well there is no doubting the youngster has something about him, good technique together with excellent vision. However, it is surely too much to be hailing a player, who has made less than 20 senior club appearances as the next Ronaldinho.
This lack of experience is said to be the main sticking point in Ferguson shelling out a bundle of cash along with his off the field antics. Although to be fair to Douglas, you can only perform at the level you are played at, with his transition into the senior ranks at the Tricolor this season effortless after winning the Campeanato almost single-handed for the Gremio Under-20 side last year. Douglas having no problems to date in stepping up in class and starting to show more signs of being a genuine player than promising prodigy.
A left-sided player, who like Ronaldinho has a bundle of tricks up his sleeve and at 18, has plenty of time on his side. On the surface Douglas looks like a very good prospect. Good enough to fill the void left at Old Trafford by Ronaldo? Possibly a bit soon for the Brazilian and should he arrive at United, will be nurtured and developed in the way Ferguson sees fit.
However, if Ferguson can lure Douglas to England by only making a small dent in the £80million currently burning a hole in his pocket from the Ronaldo sale. Then United might yet again have found someone that has the class and trickery to continue to feed the fans at Old Trafford the diet they have been used to under Sir Alex.
As with all things time will tell. But should Douglas arrive in the Premier League, will he fly with his tricks and Brazilian flair? Or will the weight of expectation of following in the footsteps of Best, Cantona, Beckham and Ronaldo cause the teenager to die on his backside?
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