Diego Costa’s road to the Seleção certainly wasn’t paved with gold.
Having moved to Atletico Madrid after just a year at Braga, Costa spent plenty of time away from the Spanish capital in a series of loan moves. Initially back to Braga, he subsequently plied his trade at Celta Vigo and Albacete before being allowed to move to Valladolid in 2009. A season which led to a respectable return of seven goals encouraged Atletico to activate the buy-back clause and bring the Brazilian back to the Vicente Calderon.
An unspectacular season followed with Sergio Agüero and Diego Forlan leading the line for Atletico, but Costa was getting minutes on the pitch and progressing, until a knee injury during preseason in July 2011 ruled him out for.
For many a footballer a serious knee injury at such a crucial point in their career could have led to taking their eyes off of the prize. Diego Costa was no such player. Working hard to recover from the cruciate ligament injury, he watched from the sidelines as Atleti’s form suffered under Gregorio Manzano, and by January had himself fit enough to earn another loan move, this time to relegation fighting Rayo. An impressive 10 goals in 16 league appearances between January and the end of the season was enough to convince Diego Simeone that Costa had something to offer his Europa League winning side upon his return.
Which brings us to this season. While the plaudits initially - and rightly so - went to Falcao, Diego Costa has begun to exert an increasing level of influence on Madrid outfit, who are currently second placed in La Liga. With 13 goals in all competitions, 6 assists, and a perception widely held in Spain that he was the defining factor in taking Atletico to the Copa Del Rey final; the hard working is beginning to pay off for the Brazilian.
What’s more, it all seems to be coming together at the right time for Diego Costa. His influence is growing week by week at a time when Falcao is heavily linked with the exit door at the Vicente Calderon. Moreover, with new Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari in charge, Costa has received his first call up to the Seleção at a time when striking options for the Brazil set up are few and far between (having been linked with a call up to his adopted Spain just a week before.)
If Diego Costa does carry on in the sort of form that dismantled Sevilla over two legs in the Copa Del Rey semi-final, the suggestion might be that Diego Costa represents Brazil’s best option at number 9 for the World Cup in 2014. With Luis Fabiano – who will be 33 next year - failing to pull up any trees in the recent friendly with England and somewhat injury-prone, competition for the spot will surely be decided by a shootout between Fred of Fluminense and the Atletico hitman.
For the fine player that he is, however, Diego Costa is capable of disrupting the flow of any game he plays in with his consistent flirtation with the law. Quick to hit the floor and similarly quick to dish out his own perception of justice, he would do well to curtail that aspect of his game somewhat for the Seleção.
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