AWOL Shakhtar Donetsk players return to club

SHAKHTAR Donetsk midfielder Fred has returned to the Ukrainian champions, the club said on Thursday, adding that they also expect his compatriot Ismaily to follow him back shortly.

Midfielder Fred has returned to Shakhtar. Picture: Getty

The two Brazilians were among six South Americans who refused to return to Shakhtar after a Malaysian Airlines plane was shot down by ground-to-air missiles in eastern Ukraine last week, killing all 298 people on board.

Fred and Ismaily, along with fellow Brazilians Douglas Costa, Alex Teixeira and Dentinho, and Argentine striker Facundo Ferreira, refused to travel from France to Ukraine following a friendly against Lyon on Saturday.

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“Shakhtar continues to prepare for the start of the Ukrainian league season,” the club said in a statement on their website (

“Fred returned to the team camp. In the coming days, (we) expect Ismaily to join the Pitmen.”

Shakhtar CEO Sergei Palkin said on Wednesday they were moving their headquarters to Kiev and would play their Champions League and domestic games in the western city of Lviv to escape from Ukraine’s strife-torn east.

Shakhtar opened the new season with a 2-0 win at rivals Dynamo Kiev in a Super Cup game in Lviv on Tuesday.

French sports daily L’Equipe reported on Tuesday that Teixeira and Costa had been “proposed” to French Ligue 1 club AS Monaco by agent Kia Joorabchian.

The club, however, refused to confirm the report.

Costa has also been linked with a move to England following reports that north London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur were both watching developments.

But Palkin has said the club was still working on persuading the other players who have so far stayed away to return.

“We are in the persuasion phase saying Ukraine is safe enough to play and live in,” he said on Wednesday.

“It is our primary task now as many of them are scared. I hope to get this sorted out. If not, we have the other mechanisms to deal with it.”