Eleven thousand one hundred fifty-two kilometres is the distance between Brazil and the town of Donetsk, Ukraine. Moreover, to get there, one must cross Western Europe, which boasts of the biggest football leagues. However, that hasn’t stopped Shakhtar Donetsk from signing young, talented players from the nation with five World Cup trophies. Fernandinho, Willian, Luiz Adriano, Douglas Costa, Elano, and Taison are some of the names who played for the team and the Selecao. And the latest name that has now joined the Ukrainian outfit is Kevin.
The 21-year-old has become the 40th Brazilian player to join the club since they started to sign Brazilian players in 2002. And seeing their track record of developing stars, Kevin has the perfect environment to make a promising career.
After winning the last two titles, Shakhtar finds themselves fourth in the league table in the middle of a tightly contested title race. The club have sprung into action to improve its squad, with the youngster’s signing being a first step.
So, who is Kevin, and how good is he?
Who is Kevin
Kevin Santos Lopes de Macedo was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on January 4, 2003. He played for several local clubs but only came into the limelight when he joined Desportivo Brasil, a club based in Porto Feliz, São Paulo. Here, he caught the eyes of Palmerias’ youth coaches, who recommended his name.
However, Palmerias initially signed him on a loan transfer in the winter transfer window of 2020. He would stay at the Palmeiras for 18 months before the club signed him permanently for €125,000 in July 2021.
He took his time to adapt to the new surroundings after signing for the cub, and it would take him some months before he started to get opportunities. In the 2022 season, he would make 22 appearances for various youth teams, scoring four goals. This season, he would also help Palmeiras win the Campeonato Brasileiro Sub-20, the premier tournament for under-20 teams organised by the Brazilian Football Federation.
His performance didn’t go unnoticed, as he would get his first call-up to the senior squad the following season.
🟠⚫️🇧🇷 Excl: Shakhtar Donetsk agree deal to sign Kevin from Palmeiras. Fee for Brazilian talent will be €15m. Here we go.
Understand 2003 born winger will travel in order to undergo medical tests on Saturday.
Deal completed by Paulo Pitombeira, Talents Sports agency. pic.twitter.com/rle9fbfdJq
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) January 10, 2024
Kevin has made 29 appearances this season for the under-20 and senior teams combined. He has played in the Copinha, Campeonato Brasileiro Sub-20 for the youth team, under-20 Copa Libertadores. Kevin was at his best in Copinha, helping his team win the title. The highlight of the season was when he scored five goals and provided five assists in a five-game run from the first round to the semi-final. While he had no goal contribution in the final, Palmeiras won the game 2-1.
Kevin kept his form, scoring three goals in the Campeonato Brasileiro Sub-20 and two more in the finals of the same tournament.
These performances earned him a spot in the squad for the 2023 under-20 World Cup, where he played four games.
After returning from the World Cup, the youngster finally debuted for the senior team when he came off as a substitute in the Copa Libertadores on August 31, 2023.
The following month, he would also get a call-up in the league against Goias. In total, Kevin would make nine appearances for the senior squad.
While Kevin has made rapid strides this season, he was already 21 and needed a club where he could get more minutes in the senior team. So, the opportunity to play at Shakhtar Donetsk is a brilliant chance to take his career to the next step.
Kevin is blessed with incredible pace and is a master of making offside trap-breaking ruins with precision. However, he is still very raw and could improve his decision-making and ball-holding skills, allowing his teammates to play in sync with him.
Even in the limited appearances, Kevin made ten successful dribbles, showing that he has talent but it still needs polishing.
Shakhtar is the best place for a player like him. In an interview in 2020, club owner Rinat Akhmetov shared his logic behind signing Brazilians.
“We wanted to attract fans. That’s when the idea to sign Brazilians was born. If we had wanted something else, we would have signed Argentines and Uruguayans. Only Brazilians put on a show”.
And the folks at Shakhtar would like Kevin to put on a show and continue the two-decade-old tradition of Brazilians dazzling the Ukrainian crowd with their beautiful football.