The total contribution of Diego Costa to the Spain cause since defecting from Brazil in October of 2013 is one measly goal against Luxembourg in a 4-0 win. He has played seven times for the deposed world champions but that routine dismissal of a European minnow is the only time Costa has been on the winning side in a competitive game during his senior international career.
Comments prior to the World Cup hinted that his chief motivation for switching was the fact that then-Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari did not pick him for the Confederations Cup, rather than any deeply-held affection for Spain. He has not managed to establish himself as a key part of the set-up but former Atletico Madrid team-mate Mario Suarez believes that Costa has no regrets about ditching his homeland.
“Not at all!” he told Goal this week. “I was talking to him when he came and he is eager to play with Spain. We were discussing as a joke that he is jinxed with the national team because he’s been in great form and then suddenly felt a knock without prior warning.”
Costa succeeded in turning plenty in his native Brazil against him during a fruitless and humbling World Cup campaign. He has attracted plenty of negative attention playing for Atletico and Chelsea and the same holds true from his time in a Spain shirt – from Brazilians and Spaniards alike. However, while the 26-year-old can thumb his nose at critics at club level by by the sheer weight of goals scored, he has no such credit available in the international arena. A slow burner in Europe after arriving from Brazil as a teenager, he is taking equally long to get going for the national side.
David Villa, Spain’s greatest-ever goalscorer, and Fernando Torres have both receded from the scene meaning that there is a space to be filled at the sharp end of the Spanish attack. Now that the first flush of excitement at turning down Brazil is spent, it would appear that Costa is unable to fill it for one reason or another.
His international career to date has been one big waste of time. He will not play against Ukraine in the crucial Euro 2016 qualification match in Seville on Friday, nor will he be present when they play Netherlands in a friendly next week, either.