If rumours are to be believed, it appears there are a lot of clubs interested in signing the Brazilian winger Bernard, who is currently a free agent after leaving Shakhtar Donetsk following the expiration of his contract with the Ukrainian club.
After missing out on Aleksandr Golovin, who opted to go to Monaco, the Blues are in the hunt for reinforcements in attack and have reportedly had their eyes set on the 25-year-old Bernard. However, it looks as though the West London club wouldn’t have to muscle its way to the front of a rather long queue to secure the Brazilian’s services. The canny winger is reportedly a fan of Chelsea and is set to rebuff other clubs in favour of a switch to Stamford Bridge. But what exactly what can Bernard offer to the Blues on the pitch?
Bernard is a skilful and tricky winger with very good close control, very much like your typical Brazilian attacker. Coupled with his diminutive size, his technical ability with the ball allows him to play very well in tight spaces, either by dribbling out of trouble or exchanging quick, short passes with fellow attackers in the final third. He is predominantly right-footed but prefers to start in the left flank, which allows him to cut inside and unleash strikes with his favoured right foot.
In the summer of 2013, Bernard took the well-trodden path of Brazilians making their way to Shakhtar Donetsk in eastern Ukraine. During his five years at Hirnyky, he was part of what many considered to be the “most Brazilian team” in Europe, with the club having featured the likes of Douglas Costa, Fred and Luiz Adriano, amongst others. When Paulo Fonseca arrived in 2016, the former Atletico Mineiro player started to thrive at the club. The Portuguese schemer set his side up in a 4-2-3-1, with Bernard playing as the left winger of a midfield that also featured Taison (No10) Marlos (right winger) and Fred (central midfielder).
Shakhtar went on to play free-flowing football, with the three attacking midfielders frequently interchanging positions that created dynamic link-up play, all the while aided by Fred who comes from a deeper position to initiate the build-up. In his five seasons in the Ukraine Premier League, Bernard won four league titles with Shakhtar and following the expiration of his contract, he has his heart set on a move to West London.
If he arrives at Stamford Bridge, Maurizio Sarri would certainly welcome the Brazilian. His immaculate touch and trickery on the wing will certainly fit into the Italian’s preferred way of playing. Very much like Eden Hazard, Bernard can readily slot into the left of the front three. Both players would prefer that position but Hazard is a world-beater and not many would get the nod ahead of the Belgian. Hence, Bernard would be expected to provide cover for Hazard, provided the Blues star stays with the club, as well as the whole frontline. It would be interesting to see how the 25-year-old Brazilian would cope with the physical robustness and searing pace of the Premier League. Nonetheless, Bernard certainly possesses the essential qualities to flourish in Sarri’s system.