We’ve trawled through the diminutive schemer’s background to pick out five things you should know about the Blues’ latest addition.
Bernard, it’s safe to say, is used to winning. He leaves Shakhtar with a plethora of medals including three league titles and a trio of Ukrainian Cups. Even when they didn’t win the title in 2015 and 2016 – Dynamo Kyiv pipping them on both occasions - Shakhtar came second.
Bernard has plenty of Champions League experience, having qualified for the competition in every season he spent in Ukraine. As such, he has experience of facing English sides. Last season he was on target as Paulo Fonseca’s side defeated Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City 2-1 – the Citizens’ first defeat in 29 straight fixtures. Previously he was in the side that earned a creditable 1-1 draw with Manchester United in 2013.
Bernard leaves Eastern Europe having scored 28 goals in 157 appearances.
Furthermore, at first club Atletico Mineiro, he helped them scoop the 2013 Copa Libertadores crown – South America’s equivalent of the Champions League. He scored four goals in 11 appearances in the tournament, missing the first leg of the final against Paraguayan side Olimpia before returning to help Mineiro turn around a 2-0 deficit and win on penalties in the second.
With 14 caps to his name, Bernard has also enjoyed success on the international stage, helping Brazil land the Confederations Cup in 2013 and also played in 2014 World Cup in his homeland.
Bernard is used to being around top-class talent. When coming through at Mineiro, he had the vastly experienced Gilberto Silva – the former Arsenal and Panathinaikos midfield man – as a teammate.
Perhaps more tellingly, however, was the presence of Brazil legend Ronaldinho. With Bernard enjoying his best football on the left of the attack, he draws similarities to the former Barcelona and AC Milan favourite who made that position his own during his spell at the Nou Camp in particular.
Shakhtar have always had a strong Brazilian contingent in their ranks and it was no surprise to see Bernard flourish after making the switch in 2013. He joined a squad that also included other exciting prospects including Douglas Costa – now at Juventus – and new Manchester United signing Fred. The vastly experienced Eduardo de Silva, formerly of Arsenal, and Croatian stalwart Darijo Srna were also teammates throughout his formative years in Ukraine.
His form at Shakhtar earned him a spot in Luis Felipe Scolari’s squad for the 2014 World Cup, a huge honour for Bernard given the tournament was to be held on home soil but one that came with no shortage of pressure.
Alongside him in the 23-man group was the likes of Neymar, Thiago Silva, Dani Alves, Marcelo and Willian – all hugely decorated serial winners. Bernard played three times as Brazil finished fourth.
Not bad for player who made his debut as a right-back against Uberaba in March 2011, aged just 18.
Despite that unexpected debut, Bernard quickly grew into a stable part of the first team squad under Dorival Junior.
He had gained experience at Mineiro’s then feeder club Democrata FC, a club that was, at the time, entirely made up of Mineiro's youth players, and went on to make 28 appearances in his first full season with his parent club.
An increasingly influential Bernard was even better in 2012. He registered 11 goals in 36 appearances as Mineiro finished second in Serie A (having ended the previous season in 15th) and qualifying for the Copa Libertadores.
As you can imagine, such displays attracted attention. Qatar-based outfit Al Ahli were believed to be the first to try and tempt Mineiro Alexandre Kalil in selling the young prospect, only to be met with a swift rebuttal.
Spartak Moscow also saw a bid refused by Kalil but in July 2013, having helped Mineiro to the Libertadores title, Bernard was finally allowed to move to Europe after Shakhtar’s bid – believed to be around €25million was accepted.
Following A Familiar Path
Shakhtar’s record of introducing Brazilian talent to the demands of European football is extensive – although Bernard’s move does break the mould.
Livewire winger Douglas Costa was bought from Gremio for €6million and sold to Bayern Munich for €30million five years later, Shakhtar made a €21million profit when sold now-Chelsea attacker to Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala for €35million, and Manchester United have just parted with a reported €52.5million to land Fred – a player bought to Ukraine for just €14million.
Elano, Fernandinho and Alex Teixeira are all further examples, alongside current Arsenal man Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Indeed, the €25million Shakhtar earned from the sale of the Armenia captain to Borussia Dortmund was used to land Bernard from Mineiro.
But where does Bernard differ? The interest has been there – AC Milan, Chelsea and West Ham were all said to be interested in him – but this time Shakhtar have missed out on a fee, with Everton swooping to sign him on a free transfer.
Upon arriving in Ukraine, Bernard had to adapt to his new surroundings. As such, his 18 games he played in his first season yielded just two goals and seven assists.
As mentioned, Shakhtar had to play second fiddle to Dynamo Kyiv for a couple of seasons, finishing behind their title rivals in 2015 and 2016.
But when Paulo Fonseca arrived in 2016, Shakhtar – and indeed Bernard – stepped up a gear.
Deploying a 4-2-3-1 formation, Bernard was given licence to roam from his left-wing berth and swap places with the other two attacking midfielders behind the front striker. Fast and technically gifted, it suited Bernard to a tee.
A perfect example of this swarming attacking football was against Roma in the Champions League round of 16 last season. The Italians, despite going in front at the Metalist Stadium, just could not cope with Shakhtars Samba contingent.
Bernard, fellow attacking midfielders Taison and Marlos, Fred, over-lapping left-back Ismaily registered 10 attempts on goal between them, with the rest of the team adding a further five. Bernard though was the standout, completing 90 per cent of his passes and enjoying more touches (73) than any of his teammates.
With the likes of countryman Richarlison, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Theo Walcott – not to mention attacking full-back Lucas Digne – all now alongside him, Bernard should feel right at home in the Blues’ forward line.