Shakhtar Donetsk have brought in a Ukrainian-record transfer fee of €50m for Alex Teixeira, but Bogdan Buga believes the Brazilian's departure leaves a sizeable hole.
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Alex Teixeira's transfer to Chinese club Jiangsu Suning for a Ukrainian record €50m has raised questions about Shakhtar Donetsk's short-term prospects.
Teixeira's departure looked inevitable, with the only question whether it would come in January or wait until the summer. The player was keen to move and the club were willing to let him leave if an acceptable offer arrived, with the most concrete interest coming from Liverpool and several other top clubs monitoring the Brazillian attacking midfielder.
"Teixeira's contract has a €70m release clause, and if any club can pay that, they're very welcome," said Shakhtar director Serhiy Palkin. That underlined Teixeira's importance; a playmaker with great touch and pace, he has also shown himself to be a wonderful goalscorer.
Last season, he was the joint-leading marksman in the Ukrainian Premier League with 17 goals; this campaign he was heading towards a national record having struck 22 league goals before Christmas. Despite Shakhtar's UEFA Champions League elimination, his three goals made it 89 in 223 club games.
Even those figures did not fully reflect the 26-year-old's significance for Shakhtar. Originally used by coach Mircea Lucescu on the wing or as a holding midfielder, he became the team's focal point after being pushed forward into the No10 position. He became a highly efficient attacker and a high line of defence – a gift for any coach.
Curiously, that did not herald a Brazil call-up alongside former club-mates Fernandinho, Willian and Douglas Costa. That international dream arguably looks further away after his surprise switch to China, a deal that perfectly suits Shakhtar's new transfer policy.
Having spent heavily in previous years without necessarily recouping the money, Shakhtar have become prudent sellers of late. Fernandinho (Manchester City), Willian (Chelsea), Douglas Costa (Bayern München) and Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Borussia Dortmund) all left in exchange for large fees.
Shakhtar's focus has turned to developing their own players, particularly members of the side that reached last term's UEFA Youth League final. Their ambitions nevertheless remain high, with Lucescu maintaining the team's level with tactical tweaks and the intelligent introduction of new faces.
Can he do that again? History tells us Lucescu almost never allows a key player to be released without lining up a replacement. Taison has already filled Teixeira's role several times this season and did so again during the winter training camps, with Bernard likely to come in on the left.
There is also Viktor Kovalenko, considered Ukraine's next big star. The 19-year-old lacks experience but has everything to develop into a top-class talent, as does Wellington Nem who has been bedevilled by injuries.
So Shakhtar's rivals should not rejoice at Teixeira's departure too heartily. Without him their performances might be completely different – though not necessarily less efficient.