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Diego Costa next club: 5 options for ex-Atletico Madrid striker – and why Wolves could have the edge

The i 12/29/2020 Michael Hincks
Diego Da Silva Costa looking at the camera: Diego Costa is now a free agent (Photo: Reuters) © Provided by The i Diego Costa is now a free agent (Photo: Reuters)

Diego Costa is now a free agent after Atletico Madrid agreed to terminate the striker’s contract six months before it was due to expire.

“The striker asked to leave the club for personal reasons a few days ago and on Tuesday signed the termination of his contract,” a club statement read.

“The club thanks Diego Costa for his dedication during these years and wishes him well in the next stage of his professional career.”

Costa had three spells at Atletico, most recently returning to the Spanish capital in 2018 after spending three years with Chelsea in the Premier League.

Atletico boss Diego Simeone knows the 32-year-old better than most, and he has backed “fighter” Costa to succeed wherever he ends up.

“We have spent a lot of time together over the years, he has given us a lot and we have given him a lot too,” Simeone said.

“We spoke about his personal issues and the club wanted to help him without harming its own interests and we feel better now we have resolved the issue.

“He felt the need to find a new challenge, and I’m sure wherever he goes he will do well, because he’s a fighter.”

Brazil or China next for Costa?

The “personal issues” regarding his premature departure have resulted in a return to Brazil, where Costa was born, emerging as the forward’s most likely destination.

Costa has spent his entire professional career in Europe, but his youth career started at Barcelona Capela in Sao Paulo, where Brazilian clubs Corinthians and Palmeiras are both based.

Back in 2017, Globo Esporte reported a loan move from Chelsea to Palmeiras was a possibility for Costa, with the player’s brother Jair telling Yahoo Brazil that Diego is a supporter of the Brazilian club.

Meanwhile, a stint in China is also being suggested, as was the case when Costa’s time at Chelsea appeared to be coming to an end in 2017 and 2018.

The owner of Chinese Super League (CSL) club Tianjin Quanjian admitted their plans to sign Costa were scuppered though when a rule change limited the number of foreign players allowed in matchday squads.

Tianjin were looking to offer £30m-a-year, Sky Sports reported, and several current CSL clubs would have the financial backing to tempt Costa with a bumper salary of that ilk.

Why Wolves could move for Costa

According to AS however, Costa wants to remain in Europe, and the Spanish newspaper claimed Arsenal have been monitoring the striker’s contract situation and waiting to make their approach.

Costa scored 59 goals in three years at Chelsea, and his familiarity with both the Premier League and London has led to the links with Arsenal, who are struggling in front of goal this season.

Only the bottom four Premier League clubs have scored fewer goals than Arsenal, with the Gunners scoring 15 in 15 ahead of Tuesday’s trip to Brighton, and Costa would become an alternative option to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah up front.

Whether Arsenal approach Costa remains to be seen, but one Premier League club who could be seriously considering a swift move for the 32-year-old are Wolves, who are without first-choice striker Raul Jimenez for the foreseeable future.

Wolves are cautious to put a date on Jimenez’s hopeful return following his clash of heads with Arsenal’s David Luiz in late November, and the prospect of signing Costa – at least in the short-term – could ease their struggles up front.

Jorge Mendes wearing a suit and tie: Portuguese ‘super-agent’ Jorge Mendes has close ties with Wolves’ owners (Picture: Getty) © Provided by The i Portuguese ‘super-agent’ Jorge Mendes has close ties with Wolves’ owners (Picture: Getty)

Costa is used to the demands of the Premier League, and would have few problems with being thrown in at the deep-end at a club also struggling for goals, but perhaps most significantly the player is a client of “super-agent” Jorge Mendes, who heads agency GestiFute.

Mendes’ ties with Wolves run deep. The club’s boss Nuno Espirito Santo was his first ever client back in 1996, while the agent is said to be a close associate of the Fosun conglomerate, who assumed control of the Midlands team in 2016 and also have a stake in GestiFute’s parent company Start SGPS.

Most recently, Mendes’ influence at Wolves saw the arrival of 18-year-old client Fabio Silva back in the summer, the striker who has started three times since Jimenez’s injury and scored his first Premier League goal against Burnley earlier this month.

It is this relationship which makes the potential of Costa playing for Wolves a possibility, even if it is just for the remainder of the season on a six-month contract as the player weighs up his summer options.

That makes the fifth option, Everton, the boyhood club of ex-Stoke and Republic of Ireland striker Jonathan Walters (see tweet below), seem a little more far-fetched.  

Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin is currently the joint-second top scorer in the Premier League with 11 goals, and the presence of Costa – while offering a viable Plan B – could disrupt the positive start to the season made on Merseyside.

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