By Manuel Veth –
Shakthar Donetsk’s Taison has been called up to the Brazilian national team. The news ends speculation on whether the Brazilian could represent his adopted home, Ukraine.
Brazil’s new national team coach, Tite, who took over from Dunga following Brazil’s dismal performance at the Copa América Centenario, announced the squad on August 22, which surprisingly included Shakhtar’s Brazilian Taison.
Taison seemed to have given up on his dream to play for the Seleção, as he repeatedly stated his desire to play for the Ukrainian Zbirna instead. Indeed, the possible inclusion of Taison, and his Shakthar teammate, Marlos, into the Ukrainian national team squad had sparked a controversial debate in Ukraine.
At the centre of the debate stood the question of whether it was okay for Ukraine’s new national team coach, Andriy Shevchenko, to call up naturalized players (read more on this here). Taison and Marlos wouldn’t have been the first Brazilian players to be called up to the national team—that honour goes to former Metalist Kharkiv midfielder, Edmar.
But while Marlos could still feature for Ukraine, Taison’s future now seems to lie with the Brazilian national team instead.
When speaking to Shakhtar.com, Taison described the conflict that he faced when it came to choosing between the Ukrainian and the Brazilian national teams: “First of all I would like to thank the Ukrainian national team for the offer. I am very happy now because of the fact that I was called up to the Brazilian national team. I want to thank absolutely all the people, who worked with me. It is hard to keep my emotions in check, but I’ll say it again, I am now focused on the two upcoming important matches of the club—I will only think about them.”
Brazil will play Ecuador on September 2 and Colombia on September 6, but before Taison can make his potential debut for Brazil, his club, Shakhtar, will play two important matches. The club will face the Turkish club, Istanbul Başakşehir, on Thursday for an all-important Europa League playoff match at the Arena Lviv.
Following the match against Başakşehir, Shakhtar will travel to Kamianske where they are going to face FC Stal Kamianske for an important Ukrainian Premier League matchup. Taison has been adamant that his call up to the Seleção will not affect his match day or affected his aims that he has with the club: “No, they have not. Before the national team I still have to focus on the club, and the two upcoming matches.”
But once these matches are out of the way, Taison should be an excellent addition to the Seleção, which, despite their gold medal victory at the Rio 2016—over a decimated German U-23 squad in penalties—is still very much looking to restore past glory.
The results at the 2014 World Cup, and at the two recent Copa América tournaments, have been hugely disappointing. Tite, who was extremely successful with Corinthians of São Paulo, is now looking to rebuild the squad and return Brazil to the top of world football.
Taison is an exceptionally fast, and technical player, who also is very dangerous in front of the net. In fact, in a world where European football has become all about speed, Taison seems a logical call-up for the Seleção.
Furthermore, Tite knows Taison well, as the former Corinthians’ coach actually faced Shakhtar Donetsk at the Florida Cup last winter. The winger scored a wonderful goal in a match that Corinthians won 3-2 against Shakhtar Donetsk.
Perhaps it was that match in particular that stood out for Tite, as Taison’s speed, especially against the somewhat slow Corinthians’ defence, stood out during the entire match. Hence, it could very well be that Taison actually landed his spot at the Seleção on a January night not far from Dinsey World in Orlando, Florida.
Manuel Veth is a freelance journalist and a writer for Bundesliga.com. He is also a holder of a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States”, which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @homosovieticus.