Diego Costa is rapidly becoming a recognisable name for every football fan, currently leading the Liga BBVA goal scoring table with 12 goals in 11 games, ahead of superstars Ronaldo and Messi, and having scored a further two goals in his only UEFA Champions League appearance against Austria Wien. He has had an electric start to the season and No.19 Diego Costa is now a regular sight on the scoresheet. This superb record has no doubt assisted in Athletico Madrid’s start to the season, now only a single point behind league leaders Barcelona, and 5 points clear of Real Madrid. It seems only natural that such a clinical target man would get a call up to the national squad, but in this case matters are more complicated.
Brazilian manager Luiz Felipe Scolari pressured Costa to make a decision concerning his international future on October 25th. The 25 year-old had already expressed an interest in playing for his adopted country Spain, after playing football for five seasons in the country. Costa has in the past made two appearances for his home nation, but both of these were in friendlies, meaning he was still eligible to choose another country providing he gained citizenship. The situation became complicated this summer as Costa was granted Spanish nationality, and therefore became available for selection for the Spanish squad. Scolari expressed his annoyance of Spain’s interference, claiming they should “respect Brazil’s right to choose its players.” In response Spanish coach Vicente del Bosque said “it’s the player’s personal decision.” This tug of war style situation served to show the sheer talent that Diego Costa possesses, as two heavyweights of international football battled it out for his name on their squad sheet.
On October 29th Costa confirmed his decision to play for Spain over his native nation Brazil, declaring both to the Brazilian Football Federation (CBF) and FIFA that he has made his choice. In the midst of this controversial series of events, the striker has expressed his hope that Brazilians will not hold any resentment towards him based on his decision. He said in a statement that “it is not something against Brazil” and commented on Spain claiming “all that I have in my life was given to me by this country.” However, it seems CBF are adamant on disrupting the striker’s choice and plan to take legal action against Costa, requesting he is stripped of his Brazilian citizenship and is not allowed to play for Spain. Despite this, the fault may lie with Brazilian coach Scolari, who failed to select Costa for the Confederations Cup, which would have sealed his fate as a Brazilian player as he would have played an official game, and this may undermine their efforts legally. Of course, Brazil are known for their passionate football, and now that Costa has announced he wishes to play for Spain it is certain he would never be accepted into the Brazilian side should he change his mind. Instead Scolari has opted to give AC Milan striker Robinho his first call up to the national squad in two years, in the hope he will have the spirit needed to play for Brazil.
Should Costa manage to survive the legal action of CBF, he then has to face intense competition for the lone striker role Spain usually favour. The spot will be heavily contested with Fernando Torres, Roberto Soldado, Alvaro Negredo, and David Villa all vying to be in the starting line up. Although if he maintains his current run of form he would appear the natural man for the job, as, supported by Spain’s famous passing play, he could be the cutting edge they need in front of goal. The next world cup is to be hosted by Brazil, which makes the event even more dramatic as, after their convincing victory over Spain in the Confederations Cup final, Brazil will fancy themselves as contenders.
Brazilian fans are renowned for their noise and zeal, and it is easy to envision the potential boos whenever Costa receives the ball at any game. It is likely Spain will end up playing Brazil in their bid to retain the World Cup, and undoubtedly sparks will fly in that fixture, as it promises to be a heated game should he play. Despite the controversy surrounding Costa, strikers of this quality are always desirable and big clubs are always in need of new goal-scoring outlets. Liverpool expressed a deep interest over this summer’s transfer window, but despite supposedly making a bid of around £20 million, the striker stayed at Athletico Madrid. He told the Spanish press he had to fight for his place as No.1 striker and planned on growing as a striker at the club. Although his loyalty is admirable, it seems that in modern day football every player has his price, and it would be a safe bet to expect a bid from one of the richer clubs in Europe in the upcoming summer transfer window. Costa has also been rumoured to have attracted the eye of Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho. After missing out on Wayne Rooney in the summer, they will evidently want to look for other options unless the form of current strikers Torres and Eto’o improves during the season. Athletico will be looking for a transfer fee of around 35+ million, and if he sustains his current form it seems likely clubs will be swooping in for the target man next season.