Time for Douglas Costa to Come Good on Potential with Brazil

Christopher Atkins@@chris_elasticoContributor IOctober 27, 2014

DONETSK, UKRAINE - SEPTEMBER 19:  Douglas Costa of FC Shakhtar Donetsk in action during the UEFA Champions League group stage match between FC Shakhtar Donetsk and FC Nordsjaelland at the Donbass Arena on September 19, 2012 in Donetsk, Ukraine. (Photo by Genya Savilov/EuroFootball/Getty Images)
EuroFootball/Getty Images

The name Douglas Costa has been linked with some of the biggest clubs in European football for many years. Yet, despite seemingly having been around for an eternity, the Shakhtar Donetsk winger is just 24 years old.

While the likes of Willian, Jadson and Fernandinho have now left Ukraine, Douglas remains as one of the elder statesmen among the club's Brazilian contingent. It is a difficult time for Shakhtar, given events off the pitch, but he remains an integral part of the Miners' plans.

Somewhat surprisingly, Dunga has chosen to call the winger into the Brazil squad for the team's upcoming fixtures with Turkey and Austria. While the lack of Brazil-based players is a factor, Douglas' form has not been spectacular of late. He does, though, always have the potential to terrify opponents with his speed and trickery.

Indeed, per Soccerway records, Douglas has completed 90 minutes in just two of the seven league games he has played this season. In those games, he has netted just twice. Of the club's Brazilian players, Alex Teixeira and Luiz Adriano are seen as more reliable contributors.

What Douglas has, though, is a reputation that has surrounded him since he first broke into the first team at Gremio in 2008. He is a wonderful talent, but there is a real feeling that he is yet to kick on and really make himself the star that he has always threatened to be. He is, as of yet, not efficient enough in his contributions.

To be called up to the national team, then, is a tremendous opportunity for the player to kick-start his career once again. A good showing in either game would likely secure his place in coming squads and, in turn, could lead to a move to a top European side. At present, nobody is willing to commit for a player who is yet to justify his high price tag.

Then again, as the following tweet shows, he does still produce moments of real magic:

Football is hard to predict, however. A year ago, Bernard appeared to be on a trajectory to the top of the game, but his career has stalled with incredible haste in Ukraine. Meanwhile, the likes of Diego Tardelli are now seen as international regulars.

If Douglas takes his opportunity with the Selecao, he could accelerate his career once more. He need only look at former colleagues Willian and Fernandinho in that respect, both of whom at one stage might have feared that they would never move beyond Shakhtar in the European game.

Douglas can offer Brazil something a bit different, that is for sure. He is incredibly fast and an excellent dribbler, which, on paper, fits in well with Dunga's counter-attacking ethos. However, converting opportunities regularly is fundamental to success at international level, and Douglas must prove he is capable of doing that.

Rafael Firmino will also be aiming for a long-term selecao berth
Rafael Firmino will also be aiming for a long-term selecao berthMartin Meissner/Associated Press

He will not be shy of competition. Fellow newcomer Roberto Firmino will be hoping to transfer his excellent Bundesliga performances on to the international stage. It is unlikely both will remain in the squad long term, so it is up to the duo to state their cases for continued inclusion.

Given the size of the reputation that has surrounded him since his teenage years, Douglas is a truly fascinating case. He has not disappeared off the radar in the manner of Lulinha or Kerlon, but he has also not yet excelled as was once hoped.

A long-awaited chance to state his case with the senior national side, though, has now fallen his way, and he will surely be given an opportunity to show his talents on the pitch during the games against Turkey and Austria.

Key to his international future while Dunga remains in charge, then, will be his ability to make an impression when that opportunity knocks.