Further evidence that the credit crunch is starting to bite, came with an unusually quiet transfer window in the Ukraine.

By Oleg Zadernovsky

The global economic crisis had a huge impact on the winter transfer market with most clubs – including Shakhtar Donetsk and Dynamo Kyiv – unusually quiet and stuck with their existing squads.

Champions Shakhtar even sold their best player, Brazilian striker Brandao, to Marseille for £5.5million, and concentrated on recalling players from loan deals. Ukraine Under-21 striker Ruslan Fomin found his way home from Metalist Kharkiv, while Mexico’s Nery Castillo returned after a miserable spell at Manchester City.

Castillo, known as “El Diablo”, signed a five-year deal in July 2007 for a record £13.5m but made only six starts for his new club before he was dropped for refusing to allow his Italian team-mate Cristiano Lucarelli to take a penalty against Naftovyk Okhtyrka. After Castillo took the penalty himself and missed, the fans turned against him and he paid a substantial part of his own loan fee to help speed up his escape to the English Premier League.

A year later, Castillo, 24, has returned to Shakhtar a changed man. “I behaved terribly towards my team-mates and the supporters of Shakhtar,” he admitted.

“I owe them a lot and would like to repay them on the pitch. I want to assure Shakhtar fans that they will see soon in me a new better version.”

Castillo took a first step towards his rehabilitation by helping the club win a pre-season tournament in Spain, where Shakhtar demolished Borussia Monchengladbach 3-0.

Elsewhere, Dynamo Kyiv swapped striker Kleber, who spent last year in Brazil on loan at Palmeiras, for Cruzeiro’s promising forward Guilherme, while Metalist Kharkiv signed Argentina Under-20 midfielder Walter Acevedo on a year’s loan from San Lorenzo.

Valeriy Bukayev, president of Zorya Luhansk, died after a long illness, aged 33.