The new football season is well underway, but Diego Costa is yet to kick a ball for club or country.
Chelsea’s wantaway hitman instead has been pictured living it up in his native Brazil, finding time for jet ski rides with his dog and enjoying some leisurely beach football with friends.
While Costa enjoys his extended holiday, the man who replaced him at Chelsea, Alvaro Morata, has started the season with a bang.
His new life in the Premier League has seen him produce two goals and two assists in his first three games, no mean feat for a striker still working towards full fitness and displaying a rapid recovery from his penalty miss against Arsenal in the Community Shield.
While Costa may not be concerned by Morata’s progress with Chelsea this season, considering his determination to leave, he should be worried about how this will impact his chances at starting with Spain at the World Cup next summer.
Diego Costa or David Villa?
Costa has been omitted from Spain’s recent World Cup qualifying squad, while Morata played and scored against group rivals Italy.
The Brazilian-born Spaniard is also behind the nation’s record scorer David Villa, the 35-year-old who plays for MLS side New York City FC.
Villa retired from international football three years ago following Spain’s elimination in the group stage of the 2014 World Cup but has answered the call to help Spain with their current striker shortage.
It’s a damning indictment on Costa’s diminishing role in the national setup and Josep Lopetegui’s reluctance to call him up when a 35-year-old is forced out of retirement instead.
Awkwardness with teammates
His continued absence hasn’t gone unnoticed by his compatriots either, with Real Madrid and Spain captain Sergio Ramos mentioning the AWOL striker before the Italy game.
“I could say a thousand things on Diego Costa. Every player plans his holidays and his life as he sees fit”.
Ramos has previously questioned Costa’s commitment in 2014 when he pulled out of a Spain squad for a match against Belarus through injury, arguing that “not reporting for duty could create a doubt among not just teammates, but with fans.”
From Costa to Morata at club and country
Costa’s continued absence leaves the door open for Morata to nail down the role of Spain’s preferred forward, a role he had at the European Championships in 2016 until Costa wrestled it away from him.
Morata was still a substitute for Real Madrid, but with the 24-year-old now Chelsea’s first choice striker, however, it will be more difficult to displace him.
“If I’m off, I’m going to the club I want to go to, not the club that’s paying the most. Diego Simeone wants me. It is very clear.” -Diego Costa on his future.
Costa’s reluctance to play for anyone but Atlético Madrid is also harming his chances at World Cup glory.
While Costa is sticking to his guns and refusing other options, his enthusiasm for Atlético will mean he won’t play competitive football until after January due to their transfer ban.
In this time Chelsea’s £58 million record signing, Alvaro Morata, will have plenty of time to shrug off the supporting cast identity he had at Real Madrid, and step into the of leading man role with Chelsea and, at Costa’s expense, Spain.
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