Diego Costa: Player Profile

Atletico’s Key To Success

Personal information 
Full name: Diego da Silva Costa
Date of birth: 7 October 1988
Age: 25
Place of birth: Lagarto, Brazil
Height: 1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)
Playing position: Striker

Club information
Current club: Atl├ętico Madrid
Number: 19

Youth career
2004–2006: Barcelona EP

Senior career
2006 → Braga: 0 Goals, 0 Appearances
2006 → Penafiel (loan): 13 Appearances, 5 goals
2007 → Braga (loan): 9 Appearances, 1 goal
2007–2008 → Celta (loan): 30 Appearances, 5 goals
2008–2009 → Albacete (loan): 35 Appearances, 9 goals
2009–2010 Valladolid: 36 Appearances, 8 goals
2010– Atletico Madrid: 106 Appearances, 51 goals
2012 → Rayo Vallecano (loan): 16 Appearances, 9 goals

National team 
2013 → Brazil: 2 Appearances, 0 goals (unofficial)

Atletico Madrid’s Diego Costa has been outstanding this season. Keeping his side in contention of winning the La Liga title since the 1995-96 season.

Rewind 12 months and Diego Costa was a bit part player at Atletico Madrid, often coming off the bench in the closing stages to try and test tiring defences with his pace.

However, he is now one of the most in-form strikers in the world, netting 19 times in his 17 appearances this season as Los Colchoneros have made their way to the top of the La Liga table alongside Barcelona.

When Radamel Falcao left the Vicente Calderon in the summer, Diego Simeone’s men were expected to struggle without the Colombian’s goals but they have only gotten stronger, with Costa leading from the front.

The 25-year-old’s form earned him a call-up for the Brazilian national team but after playing in two non-competitive matches, he decided to switch his allegiances to Spain, the country in which he has played since 2007.

The news was greeted with glee by fans of live football commentary, and he is now being tipped on football betting websites to play a leading role as Vicente del Bosque’s try to defend the World Cup.

Since winning Euro 2008, La Roja have enjoyed unparalleled success, defending their title in Poland and the Ukraine while they also became World Champions for the first time in 2010.

However, there is a feeling in the game that the ‘tiki-taka’ tactics employed by the national side are becoming predictable and they have often found themselves being outmaneuvered by their opponents.

The situation has prompted them to often play without a striker, but Costa’s pace will provide Del Bosque’s men with a totally different dimension.

The Lagarto-born star may not be the most gifted player in the world, but he is certainly one of the most effective and his ability to not only score, but also bring his team-mates into the game could make him an essential part of Spain’s title defence.

“The sky is the limit for Diego Costa,” purred Atletico boss Diego Simeone earlier this season.

Few expected the 25-year-old to have quite the impact this season.

Radamel Falcao left in the summer and, with him, so did 34 goals—how were Atletico supposed to replace them?

The answer looked like it was going to come in the form of David Villa, and it has, in a way, but not in the direct way speculated.

Villa is a very different forward to Falcao, more adept at dropping deep, drifting wide and generally getting involved in the team’s all round play—with Falcao in the side the worry was if he didn’t score, who would?

Los Rojiblancos look much freer as an attacking force this season as a result, and it has allowed Diego Costa to step up.

That's not to say he hasn’t been slowly improving since his loan spell with Rayo Vallecano at the back-end of the 2011/12 season.

Ten goals arrived in 16 La Liga appearances at Vallecano, and he returned to Atletico the following season to slowly improve as the season progressed.

Supplementing Falcao’s 34 goals, the Brazilian-born-Spaniard chipped in with 20 goals last season—with eight coming in Atletico’s triumphant Copa del Rey campaign and 13 coming after the winter break.

He also demonstrated a penchant for creating too—directly assisting seven goals and over laying on over 30 chances, which is a trait which has not only carried into the new season, but makes him the perfect focal point of a Simeone side no longer reliant on a Colombian No. 9.

“On the pitch I fought with everyone, I couldn’t control myself,” said Costa.

“I insulted everyone, I had no respect for the opposition, I thought I had to kill them.”

He was referring to his upbringing in Brazil, but it’s a mentality which followed him to Europe.

As recently as last season he was accused of racism by Geoffrey Kondogbia, sent off for pushing a Rubin Kazan player over and got embroiled in a nasty physical battle with Sergio Ramos and Pepe in the Madrid derby.

That was last season though, and there’s a hope that his new role as talisman will breed responsibility—he’s been fairly scandal free this season.

He’ll still dive, he plays in Spain after all and he’ll still get caught up in arguments, but maybe, just maybe, it seems that he’s left the really nasty stuff in his past: three yellow cards in 17 appearances this season, compared to the 15 cautions and one dismissal he picked up last season, suggest a start.

Meanwhile it’s his 17 goals which have made the headlines and got the football world talking.

Costa had been on a slow ascent for about 18 months, but this season has seen that ascent translate into an almost vertical line.

The main benefactor of Falcao’s departure and a new, more fluid system at the Vicente Calderon, Costa, and his goals, could help Atletico stay in the title race until the final weekend of the season when they travel to Barcelona’s Camp Nou.

He is definitely one of the surprise packages of the season and a player to follow as he continues to blossom into one of the most deadly strikers in the world.