In late July 2011, the scene was set for Diego Costa to redeem himself and start a new era for Atleti. He had been around the club since 2007 but had seen limited playing time. Now with Kun Aguero gone and Diego Forlan likely to leave, it was the chance the Brazilian had been craving. It was an opportunity, but disaster struck when he suffered a bad knee injury. But, a loan spell at Rayo Vallecano and a return year with Atleti last season and Diego Costa is now one of La Liga’s hottest properties. He faces some tough decisions as not only clubs clamber for his signature but so too do two international countries.
Love him or loathe him, one can’t but admire Costa’s rise. In the second half of last season he outshone Radamel Falcao. This season he has stepped up to another level and even David Villa is left looking in awe. The Colombian’s departure was softened by the former Barcelona striker’s signature but it is the Brazilian who has made everyone forget about El Tigre. The problem for the forward is that he is a bit of a paradox. His passion, determination and desire are juxtaposed with his ability to wind up opponents and be slightly theatrical when tackled. Players who are equally adored and disdained usually play for Real Madrid or Barca, but Costa is bucking a trend.
So far this season he has found the back of the net seven times. By Tuesday night his performances had persuaded Vicente Del Bosque to run his eye over him. Fernando Torres and David Villa are only shadows of the their former selves, whilst Alvaro Negredo and Roberto Soldado haven’t exactly convinced and so it appears that Spain want to bring Costa into the fold but they need to act quickly.
On Wednesday night Cadena Ser said that La Roja were planning on doing so and playing him in a qualifier, which would bound him to Spain. Costa, who was capped twice earlier this year in friendlies for Brazil has admitted that he would prefer to play for the Selecao, but has also said that Spain is his home and he would have no problem representing them. With Luiz Felipe Scolari omitting him from October’s friendlies, it may seem that La Roja will have their way.
Costa’s strength on the ball and the air gets all the headlines. His height makes him look uncomfortable with the ball at his feet but looks can be misleading. Costa loves to run and weave around defenders. He can also cross and tackle. He is a voice on the field and if anyone symbolises this ‘New Atletico’, it is him. Cholo Simeone demands passion, dedication and perseverance, all qualities he had as a player and the same qualities Costa shows each game.
Right now the 24-year-old is keeping his head down and working away. In last season’s La Liga Derby he made a lot of headlines in the Santiago Bernabeu for the wrong reasons, but his fans only remember his Copa del Rey Final performance. After the weekend return to Madrid, he may get the call from Vicente Del Bosque. Will he answer it?