Shakhtar Donetsk's 10 Best Brazilian Players Ever - Ranked

Shakhtar Donetsk players celebrating their UEFA Cup win in 2009.
Shakhtar Donetsk players celebrating their UEFA Cup win in 2009. / DAVID HECKER/Getty Images

Since the turn of the century, Donetsk has become a conveyor belt for Brazilian talent.

It's no secret that Shakhtar prioritise South American leagues as their most fertile scouting grounds, offering a European platform (and a chance at silverware) to some of Brazil's best budding young stars.

It is a philosophy that was spearheaded by Romanian coach Mircea Lucesca who was brought in to turn the Miners into Ukraine's most dominant side, shortly after the turn of the century.

Lucescu had a desire to make Shakhtar a more technical side, and what better way to do it than to add a little Samba flair? To this day, budding young Brazilians are still making the long journey to Donetsk to launch their aspiring careers in European football.

Here are the 10 best in the club's history...

10. Matuzalem

Matuzalem in action against Celtic in the Champions League.
Matuzalem in action against Celtic in the Champions League. / Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

One of Lucescu's first signings, Matuzalem was brought in from Brescia for a then club-record fee in 2004.

Known as an offensive-minded central playmaker, Matuzalem was nicknamed 'The Professor' due to his intelligence and creative flair. He had a knack for goalscoring too, netting 25 times in 68 appearances for the Miners.

9. Fred

Fred in action for Shakhtar in the Champions League.
Fred in action for Shakhtar in the Champions League. / JOE KLAMAR/Getty Images

Brought in from Internacional in 2013, Fred spent five successful seasons for Donetsk, winning ten trophies during his time at the club.

Deployed as a deep lying playmaker, Fred provided the vital glue in midfield, making 155 appearances. His consistently high-level performances in Ukraine led to Manchester United splashing out £52m to secure his services in 2018.

8. Jadson

Shakhtar's Brazilian midfielder Jadson.
Shakhtar's Brazilian midfielder Jadson. / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/Getty Images

Highly rated in Brazil at the time, a 21-year-old Jadson decided to make the move to Ukraine in 2005.

The tricky attacking midfielder spent seven years with the Miners and was instrumental in Shakhtar's 2008/09 UEFA Cup triumph, scoring the winning goal in the final against Werder Bremen.

His run of form for the Shakhtar saw him called up to the Brazilian national side, where he earned eight caps.

7. Brandao

Brandao. / SERGEI SUPINSKY/Getty Images

Coming off the back of their first Ukrainian Premier League win in 2001/02, Shakhtar decided to bolster their squad by bringing in Brandao for £900,000. The 22-year-old towering forward was actually the first in a long line of Brazilians to head to Ukraine.

Bringing in the relatively unknown Brandao was a gamble that paid off for the Miners. He spent seven seasons in Ukraine, scoring 91 goals in 220 appearances for the club as Shakhtar asserted themselves as a European contender.

6. Bernard

Bernard. / KURT DESPLENTER/Getty Images

We've seen glimpses of what he can do in the Premier League through his performances for Everton, but it was in Ukraine where Bernard became a star.

Having won the Copa Libertadores with Atletico Mineiro the season prior, Bernard - who had been linked with Chelsea and Tottenham - opted for a move to Donetsk in a deal worth £21.5m.

The technically gifted winger made 157 appearances for the club, netting 28 goals during his impressive five-year spell.

5. Luiz Adriano

Luiz Adriano in action for Shakhtar.
Luiz Adriano in action for Shakhtar. / EuroFootball/Getty Images

Signed from Internacional in 2006/07, Shakhtar showed patience with Adriano, slowly introducing the striker into the first team over his first two years with the club.

it was a wait that paid off massively as he developed into a goalscoring machine. Adriano spent nine seasons in Ukraine, netting 128 times in 266 appearances, a record which saw him become Shakhtar's all-time leading goalscorer.

4. Alex Teixeira

Alex Teixeira.
Alex Teixeira. / Christian Hofer/Getty Images

In the 2015/16 campaign, Alex Teixeira was a name on everyone's lips. The attacking midfielder was in the form of his life for the Miners, netting 26 goals in as many games.

With Liverpool heavily linked, the former Vasco da Gama man instead ended up moving to China where he remains to this day.

It is his time at Shakhtar that he will be fondly remembered for though. Teixeira netted 89 goals in 223 appearances, half of which came in his final two seasons with the club as he established himself as one of Europe's hottest number tens.

3. Douglas Costa

Douglas Costa
Douglas Costa / EuroFootball/Getty Images

Following an exciting breakthrough season with Gremio, Douglas Costa made the move to Ukraine in 2009 and launched what would be a star-studded career in Europe.

Costa spent six seasons with the Miners, scoring 38 goals in 202 appearances for the club. His blisteringly quick wing play caught the eye of Bundesliga giants Bayern, who secured his services for £21m back in 2015.

2. Willian

Shakhtar's Willian.
Shakhtar's Willian. / SERGEI SUPINSKY/Getty Images

Long before he was terrorising fullbacks in the Premier League, Willian had his first taste of European football in Ukraine with Shakhtar.

The teenager was cherry picked from a struggling Corinthians side halfway through the 2007/08 season. Technically gifted pace to burn, Willian was thrown into the first team at his new club and never looked back.

He made 221 appearances for the Miners, netting 37 times over his five-year stint at the club. Willian's form in Ukraine was recognised by then Brazil manager Mario Menezes who handed him his first of 70 caps in 2011.

1. Fernandinho

Fernandinho / EuroFootball/Getty Images

After impressing with Atletico Paranaense in his native Brazil, a 19-year-old Fernandinho was recruited by Shakhtar for a mere £7m back in 2005.

The defensive midfielder made 284 appearances for the Miners, scoring 53 goals before Manchester City lured him to the Premier League in a £34m deal.

Like Willian, Fernandinho's form in Ukraine was rewarded with a call-up by Mario Menezes who handed him his first of 53 caps for Brazil.