- Category : Footballer
- Type : ME
- Profile : 6/2 - Role Model / Hermit
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Endeavor 2
Diego da Silva Costa (born 7 October 1988), known earlier in his career as simply Diego, is a Spanish professional footballer who plays for English club Chelsea and the Spain national team. He plays as a striker and has been described by pundits as a player whose main attributes are his physicality, goalscoring and ability to keep possession.
He began his career with Braga and Penafiel in Portugal, and was signed by Atlético Madrid in 2007. He was loaned back to Braga, and then to Celta and Albacete before being sold to Valladolid in 2009. He returned to Atlético the following season and went on to play a key role in their attack, scoring 27 goals as they won the league title in 2014, and then joined Chelsea for £32 million.
Internationally, Costa played twice for Brazil in 2013, but later declared his desire to represent Spain, having been granted Spanish citizenship in September 2013. He made his début for his adopted nation in March 2014, and was selected for that year's World Cup.
Born in Lagarto, Sergipe, Brazil, Costa started his career at Barcelona Esportivo Capela in São Paulo, having been limited to street football until the age of 16. His first professional adventure was in Portugal as he signed in February 2006 with S.C. Braga, after which he spent the following months with the club's reserves.
In the 2006 summer Costa was loaned to F.C. Penafiel, in the second division, and in December, he was sold to Spain's Atlético Madrid, for €1.5 million and 50% of the player's rights, but remained on loan at Braga until the end of the season. On 23 February 2007, he came on in the 71st minute for Zé Carlos and scored his first goal for the team, a last-minute goal for a 1–0 win at Parma F.C. to advance 2–0 on aggregate to the Last 16 of the UEFA Cup.
On 8 July 2009 Costa was sold to Real Valladolid as part of the deal that sent goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo in the opposite direction, with the transfer including a €1 million buy-back option that could be activated by Atlético at the end of the season.
He started strong for the Castile and León side, scoring six times in his first 12 games, but only found the net once in the following 5½ months as the campaign eventually ended in relegation from La Liga.
In June 2010 Costa returned to the Colchoneros, initially as a backup to Sergio Agüero and Diego Forlán – Atlético also paid an undisclosed sum to Braga to buy all the residual 30% economic rights (the former also had to pay an exceed of €833,000 in agent's fees to Gestifute). He was an unused substitute as Atlético won the 2010 UEFA Super Cup on 27 August.
On 26 September, with the injured Agüero on the substitutes bench, Costa scored the game's only goal at home against Real Zaragoza. On 3 April of the following year, already as a starter after manager Quique Flores demoted Forlán from his position, he netted all of his team's goals in a 3–2 win at CA Osasuna.
Costa on loan at Rayo Vallecano, celebrating with the goalscorer, Alhassane Bangoura, in a match against Levante, on 19 February 2012.
In July 2011, during Atlético's pre-season, Costa suffered a serious knee injury, going on to miss the majority of the season. The injury prevented him from passing a medical at Turkish club Beşiktaş J.K., having already agreed to transfer to them. On 23 January 2012 Costa was loaned to fellow league club Rayo Vallecano, until June; he scored four goals in his first three appearances, including two in a 5–3 away win against Levante UD, eventually finishing his loan spell with 10 goals from 16 games.
For the second time in his career, Costa was an unused substitute as Atlético won the UEFA Super Cup on 1 September 2012.
During December 2012, Costa was involved in several on-field altercations in two separate matches. The first was in a 0–2 local derby loss against Real Madrid where he avoided disciplinary action after spitting incidents between him and Sergio Ramos. He was sent off in the following game at FC Viktoria Plzeň in the Europa League for headbutting opponent David Limberský, and was handed a four-match ban by UEFA. This, however, did not deter coach Diego Simeone from continuing to start him, and he responded by netting three goals in two home contests, against Deportivo de La Coruña in the league (6–0) and Getafe CF in the season's Copa del Rey (3–0).
After the Spanish Cup semi-finals against Sevilla FC, Costa took his goal tally in the competition to seven in as many matches, having scored three times in the tie: in the first leg he netted two penalties in a 2–1 win and, in the second at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán Stadium, scored one after an individual effort and assisted Radamel Falcao in the other, also being involved in situations which resulted in two opposing players – Gary Medel and Geoffrey Kondogbia – being sent off in the 2–2 draw.
Costa scored Atlético's equalising goal in the Copa del Rey Final clash against city-rivals Real Madrid on 17 May 2013, contributing to the 2–1 triumph – the first in 25 games in a streak stretching back to 1999 – and the tenth win in the tournament, confirmed by Miranda's extra-time header. He and opponent Cristiano Ronaldo had gone into the match as joint top scorers in the tournament, and thus Costa's eighth goal made him the top scorer.
In August 2013 Costa was heavily linked with a move to Liverpool, who allegedly matched his release clause of €25 million and offered him three times his salary at Atlético. However, he chose to stay at the club and renewed his contract until 2018, while also doubling his wages; he celebrated this a few days later in the first match of the new season, scoring a brace in a 3–1 win at Sevilla.
On 24 September Costa netted both goals in a 2–1 home triumph over Osasuna, to help his team stay level on points with league leaders FC Barcelona through six games. Four days later, in the Madrid derby, he scored the only goal of the game to record a second win over Real at the Santiago Bernabéu in under five months. For his performances, he was crowned the inaugural La Liga Player of the Month for September 2013. By his 25th birthday on 7 October, he had scored 10 goals in 8 league matches, equalling his tally from the previous season. All of those matches were won by Atlético, setting a new record for the best start to a season. On 23 November 2013, Costa scored an overhead volley from a cross by Gabi in a win over Getafe CF; the goal was nominated for the FIFA Puskás Award.
On 22 October 2013 Costa marked his UEFA Champions League début with two goals against FK Austria Wien, the first coming after a fine individual effort in an eventual 3–0 group stage away win. On 19 February of the following year, in the first knockout round's first leg, he scored the game's only goal at A.C. Milan, netting seven minutes from time after a corner kick from Gabi; he added a further two in the second match, helping to a 4–1 victory that put Atlético into the quarter-finals for the first time in 17 years.
On 30 April 2014 Costa won and converted a penalty in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final against Chelsea, as Atlético won 3–1 at Stamford Bridge and advanced to the final of the competition for the first time since 1974. He finished the league season with 27 league goals to be the third highest scorer, and the team won the title for the first time since 1996, but he was substituted after 16 minutes of the last match of the season against Barcelona due to a hamstring injury. Atlético sought to cure this injury for the upcoming Champions League final against Real Madrid by sending him to Belgrade for treatment with a horse placenta, and he was included in the starting line-up for the decisive match, but left the pitch after eight minutes in an eventual 1–4 loss; manager Diego Simeone later admitted a personal mistake in selecting the player to start the final despite his recent injury. Costa scored 8 goals during the Champions League campaign, equalling the record held by Vavá since 1959 for most in a season by an Atlético player, and in his entire career was in the top 10 Atlético players by goal average. At the season's LFP Awards, he was nominated for the league's Best Forward, losing out to Cristiano Ronaldo.
Having completed his medical in June, Chelsea announced on 1 July 2014 that they "can confirm an agreement has been reached with Atletico Madrid for the transfer of Diego Costa" after they had agreed to meet the £32 million buy-out clause in Costa's contract. On 15 July, Chelsea confirmed the completion of the signing of Costa, who signed a five-year contract on a salary of £150,000 a week. Costa said: "I am very happy to sign for Chelsea. Everybody knows it is a big club in a very competitive league, and I am very excited to get started in England with a fantastic coach and team-mates. Having played against Chelsea last season I know the high quality of the squad I am joining". Following the departure of former Chelsea striker Demba Ba, Costa inherited his number 19 shirt, the same number he wore at the 2014 World Cup for Spain, and previously at Atlético.
Costa scored on his Chelsea debut on 27 July, running onto a through ball from Cesc Fàbregas in a 2–1 friendly win against Slovene club Olimpija. Costa then scored his second goal of pre-season in a 2–0 friendly win against Fenerbahçe, on 8 August, described by the Daily Mail as a "wondergoal". He ended his pre-season with two goals in his first match at Stamford Bridge, a 2–0 friendly win against Real Sociedad, on 12 August.
His first competitive match was Chelsea's first game of the league season, away to Burnley on 18 August, scoring the team's equaliser in a 3–1 victory. Costa also scored in his second league game, opening a 2–0 home win over Leicester City. He scored in his third consecutive match on 30 August, netting the first and last goals of a 6–3 win at Everton, the first goal coming after 35 seconds. Costa was given the Premier League Player of the Month award for August 2014. He completed his first Premier League hat-trick in his fourth game of the season against Swansea City as Chelsea continued their perfect start to the season with a 4–2 win. With seven, Costa holds the record for most goals in his first four Premier League matches, surpassing the tally of six by both Sergio Agüero and Micky Quinn. In spite of his form at the start of the season, Costa had been suffering from a recurring hamstring problem which limited his participation in training; manager José Mourinho said that it would not heal until mid-November.
Costa scored his 10th goal of the league season to give Chelsea a 2–1 win away to Liverpool on 8 November, preserving their unbeaten start to the campaign.
On 5 March 2013, Costa was called up by Brazilian national team coach Luiz Felipe Scolari for friendlies with Italy in Geneva and Russia in London, both taking place late in that month. He made his début in the first match on the 21st, replacing Fred midway through the second half of the 2–2 draw. Four days later at Stamford Bridge he replaced Kaká for the last 12 minutes of a 1–1 draw with Russia.
Request to change teams
In September 2013, the Royal Spanish Football Federation made an official request to FIFA for permission to call up Costa for the Spanish national team. He had been granted Spanish nationality earlier in the summer.
On 29 October 2013, Costa declared that he wished to play international football for Spain, sending a letter to the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF). Following the news, Scolari commented: "A Brazilian player who refuses to wear the shirt of the Brazilian national team and compete in a World Cup in your country is automatically withdrawn. He is turning his back on a dream of millions, to represent our national team, the five-time champions in a World Cup in Brazil."
The CBF judicial director, Carlos Eugênio Lopes, said:
"It's obvious that the reason he made that choice was financial. The chairman authorised me to open a legal action at the Justice Ministry requesting that he loses his Brazilian citizenship, which Diego Costa has rejected... The chairman told me that Costa has proved he's not fit to be part of the Scolari family, that he would contaminate the family because he's not committed to Brazil, but to Spain. He rejected his Brazilian citizenship. Marin has asked me to study the situation deeply in order to keep him from ever playing for Spain. He told me that, from now on, Costa is 'persona non grata' at the national team and that the players themselves wouldn't welcome him because of that episode".
On 28 February 2014, Spain manager Vicente del Bosque included Costa in the squad for a friendly against Italy. He finally made his début on 5 March, playing the full 90 minutes at his club ground the Vicente Calderón Stadium as the hosts won 1–0.
Costa was named in Spain's 30-man provisional squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, as well as the final list which was named on 31 May. He returned from the injury which had ended his club season by starting in a warm-up game against El Salvador, winning a penalty in a 2–0 victory. In the first match of the tournament, against the Netherlands, he again won a penalty, conceded by Stefan de Vrij and converted by Xabi Alonso for a 1–0 lead but in an eventual 1–5 defeat; he was booed by Brazilian fans during the match, to which he reacted by saying "I have confirmed that Spain is my country and the Spanish people are behind me, the criticism of my decision does not affect me". Costa then started in a 0–2 loss to Chile making little impact as he was substituted for Fernando Torres for the second consecutive match, and Spain were eliminated. He was an unused substitute in the team's third match, a 3–0 defeat of Australia.
Costa scored his first goal for Spain with the third in a 4–0 UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying win away to Luxembourg on 12 October 2014.
Costa preparing to take a penalty in a match against Almería on 14 September 2013
Earlier in his Atlético Madrid career, Costa's physical play was used in support of Radamel Falcao, thus ensuring a lower goalscoring rate. After Falcao was sold in 2013, the attack was restructured around Costa by manager Diego Simeone. Simeone, who like Costa was known for his competitiveness and aggression, found ways to enhance his discipline while retaining his determination.
Ahead of his competitive debut for Chelsea in August 2014, BBC Sport pundit Robbie Savage described Costa as "the missing piece in the jigsaw" for the "clear favourites" who "could end up winning the title by five or six points". He explained that Chelsea's defence was already the strongest in the league, but a poorer rate of shot-to-goal conversion had cost them the title. He praised Costa's stature and physical style of play which "suits the Premier League down to the ground" in the same role that Didier Drogba previously played at Chelsea, an opinion also voiced by the league's top scorer of all time, Alan Shearer. Costa has also been attributed with a greater ability to keep possession of the ball than any Chelsea striker since Drogba first left the club in 2012.
Savage feared that Costa was liable to being angered by opponents. Opposing managers have also opined that Costa himself intends to provoke his opponents. Danny Murphy of Match of the Day has stated that Costa is targeted by players who "wind him up", but he "remains calm", and is justified to taunt opponents who taunt him. Pat Nevin, a former Chelsea winger, believes that Costa's style of play is likely to cause himself "a few injuries".