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Diego Costa 'anxious' to make Atletico Mineiro debut

N.C.N. Limited logo N.C.N. Limited 20/08/2021 eMichaelPlace
Rafinha et al. playing football on a field © Provided by N.C.N. Limited

Atletico de Madrid's Diego Costa (R) and Celta's Nestor Araujo (C) vie for the ball during a Spanish league soccer match between Atletico de Madrid and Celta in Madrid, Spain, on Sept. 21, 2019. (Xinhua)

Diego Costa has revealed his anxiety ahead of his debut for the Atletico Mineiro.

RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug. 19 (Xinhua) -- Diego Costa said Thursday that a burning desire to play professionally in his homeland and the prospect of winning major silverware were the key reasons for his decision to sign with Atletico Mineiro.

The 32-year-old faced the media for the first time since agreeing to personal terms of a contract with the Brazilian club that runs until December 2022.

"I'm happy and anxious. Everything is new to me. Until now my entire career has been in Europe. I've never played [professionally] in Brazil despite being Brazilian. I'm looking forward to making my debut, to see how everything goes and see how I adapt - not only me, but my family, which is the most important thing."

Costa left Brazil as a 17-year-old to join Portugal's Braga, a move that paved the way for glittering spells at Atletico Madrid and Chelsea, among other European clubs.

After two friendly appearances for Brazil, Costa gained Spanish citizenship in 2013 and debuted for his adopted country the following year. He has played 24 times for the Roja and scored 10 goals.

But the striker's priorities have been recalibrated since he ended a second stint with Atletico Madrid last December.

Diego Da Silva Costa et al. standing in front of a crowd © Provided by N.C.N. Limited

Diego Costa (C) of Atletico Madrid holds the UEFA Super Cup after their 4-2 victory over Real Madrid at Lillekula Stadium in Tallinn, Estonia, Aug. 15, 2018. (Xinhua/Sergei Stepanov)

"Football changes overnight and you have to keep your feet on the ground," he said. "It was my decision to come here. It felt like the right thing to do personally and for my family."

Costa is the fourth high-profile player to join Atletico Mineiro this year, following the arrivals of ex-Porto and Shanghai SIPG star Hulk, Chilean forward Eduardo Vargas and Argentine playmaker Ignacio Fernandez.

The signings have helped propel Atletico to the top of the Brazilian Serie A standings and the semifinals of the Copa Libertadores, South America's top club competition.

"Atletico have a beautiful and ambitious plan," Costa replied when asked why he chose Atletico Mineiro ahead of a host of European suitors, which reportedly included Arsenal, Juventus and Besiktas.

"There were other possibilities. But this project is ambitious and the club has shown that it will be fighting for titles, playing against the best teams [in South America]. I came here to bring my experience so that we can conquer something."

Having not played competitively for more than six months, Costa is not expected to make his debut for Atletico until early September.

"Physically, I'm not in bad shape. I passed every possible test. I think they [Atletico's coaching staff] were surprised in a positive way. They will decide when I will start playing. Of course I'm a bit rusty but if I could have, I would have made by debut yesterday. Hopefully, I'll be able to get out on the pitch as soon possible," he added.

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