As one of the premier destinations for South American talent in Eastern Europe, Shakhtar Donetsk have long made use of their position in the European game. A regular competitor in the UEFA Champions League, and a contender for the UEFA Europa League if they drop down, Shakhtar are a modern club with a venerable status in the game. Many Brazilians have chosen to start their European journey with the Donbass region outfit as opposed to moving to other choices in Holland, Portugal, and similar-sized nations.
However, the conflict in Ukraine, which has been going on for much of the last decade but has really kicked into action in 2022, has seen Donetsk hobbled as a football power. Ukrainian football has been shut down, and even then the Miners have been playing outside of their own region for much of the last eight years. Despite that, they have still managed to sign top players, develop talent, and win titles. At the moment, though, the conflict means many of their South American talents are going elsewhere.
One example would be Tete, the exciting winger who is now part of Olympique Lyonnais. Another player who is a shining example of this opportunism across Europe, though, is young Vinicius Tobias. The young full-back, only 17, has the potential to be a Brazilian take on the modern full-back.
Having signed for Donetsk in the summer of 2021, he was expected to slowly make his way into the first-team picture. Now, he has already left – Real Madrid have agreed a loan deal that could see the player move permanently for around €17m in the summer of 2022.
How good is Vinicius Tobias?
In a word – very.
An exciting player with flair and electric pace, Tobias can get up and down the wing with confidence. He could suitably play as a lone winger, as a full-back with a winger, or as a wing-back. He has tremendous technique, too, with exciting deliveries from deep and from the byline. Though he is still slight given his age, and his defensive tendencies need lots of work, at such a young age he has everything one would hope for in a prodigious young talent.
An excellent playmaker from the full-back position, Tobias reminds some of Trent Alexander-Arnold. His range of passing and his pitch vision is hugely impressive for a youngster. Real Madrid do not waste money where they can, and the arrival of this youngster – straight into their Castilla team, but training with the first-team – points to how highly rated he is among the Madrid hierarchy.
With an excellent touch and a consistently sound delivery for one so young, it is easy to see where the excitement stems from. Given his age and his already impressive talent, signing the player for the agreed fee will likely go down as a steal. Had the Ukraine conflict not reached such serious levels, Tobias would likely have been the next huge-money sale from Donetsk.
For Madrid, though, this could turn out to be a deal as impressive as the deal to sign the likes of Casemiro and Marcelo over the years.