Due to the current political turmoil in Ukraine, the country’s most successful club, Shakhtar Donetsk, have been forced to listen to offers for the majority of their Brazilian stars. This is because these players are worried about the potential consequences of remaining in Ukraine, particularly if the situation gets worse. Such stars include the likes of Bernard, the young Brazilian playmaker; Facundo Ferreyra, the promising striker who scored 6 goals last season; Taison, the player linked with the likes of Chelsea before his transfer to Shakhtar.
And Douglas Costa. The star of Shakhtar; the one who most agree is the most supremely talented and skillful member of their squad; the one who can play anywhere across the attacking midfield positions, and even as a striker; the one who refused to return to Shakhtar due to the political situation. As such, it has been reported that Shakhtar are willing to listen to offers for their skillful Brazilian, with Arsenal the most strongly-linked club.
Shakhtar say he will stay put, but respected Sky Italia reporter Gianluca Di Marzio says that the Gunners are seriously keen on the 23-year-old, and are ready to make a move to sign him. It is reported that Arsenal have made an offer of £15.8m, which Shakhtar are willing to accept, leaving personal terms to be the only remaining hurdle. However, Arsenal fans may be asking themselves, ‘Do we really need Douglas Costa?’
The answer is yes. Douglas Costa is an entirely different type of player to any of those currently in the Gunners’ squad, with the possible exception of Joel Campbell. He has the pace of Walcott, but with more skill. He has the vision of Ozil, but with more pace. He has the determination of Rosicky, but is 10 years younger. What’s more, he has the shot of Podolski, but with more technical ability. This is not to say that Douglas Costa is better than all of these players; far from it. But he’s different. And last season, Arsenal missed something different.
They missed someone who, when the going got tough, they could count on to make a difference. Depressing as it may sound, the only ‘impact sub’ which the Gunners truly utilised was Yaya Sanogo – look at the FA Cup Final, for example. If Sanogo can make a difference as an impact player, just think what Douglas Costa could do. With his skill, pace, vision and versatility, Arsenal really couldn’t go wrong with signing this boy as an impact player.
However, my one concern would be the consequences of signing Costa, most notably in terms of the future of Santi Cazorla. Whilst Costa possesses many impressive attributes, he does not possess the all-round quality of Santi Cazorla, and so signing him in order to replace Cazorla would be a mistake. Yes, Cazorla is ageing, and yes he didn’t have a fantastic season. But there is no doubt that, on his day, his quality shines through. The first-time finish against Tottenham. The volley against Liverpool. The curling finish against Fulham. The free-kick against Hull in the Cup Final. Yes, Santi’s stats didn’t signify a great season for him. But just look at all the important goals he’s scored. In all of the above instances, the game was tight, and Arsenal needed a breakthrough. And in all of the above instances, Santi was the answer. This is why signing Costa to replace Cazorla would be a mistake.
What’s more, Costa doesn’t have the big-game experience of Cazorla, and, whilst the Brazilian is still only 23, it would not be wise to thrust him straight into the Premier League as a starter, with the pressure of living up to Cazorla’s magic. If Costa is to be signed, it must be as an impact player (for the first season, at least), in order that he gently finds his way in the Premier League, whilst being surrounded by quality starters with whom to compete.
In my opinion, Douglas Costa would be an excellent signing, as he provides something different to what we already have, and I believe that this is important. However, I believe that keeping Cazorla would be more beneficial than signing Costa. But we should still sign Costa. Playing as backup to Santi would probably be the best way for Costa to settle in, and allow him to play the role of an impact sub. As such, I think Arsenal need to sign him in order to perform such a role, and his availability just adds more sense to the move.
So, in conclusion, I do believe that Arsenal should sign Douglas Costa. However, I wouldn’t place this as a top priority, as I still believe that a centre-back, a holding midfielder and a striker need to be signed if Arsenal are to challenge for the Premier League. But if Costa is available, there is absolutely no reason why the Gunners shouldn’t snap him up.
By Lucas Jones (Twitter: @LucasJones4)