Diego Costa may well have played his final match for Atletico Madrid. The striker has received a whopping eight-match suspension following his red card at Barcelona last week, ensuring that he will not play another game this season.
The future of the Spain international had already come under scrutiny with clubs from the Chinese Super League reportedly making tentative approaches for the striker in January. Atleti rejected the advances back then but have since landed Alvaro Morata on a long-term loan from Chelsea and may decide that this is the final opportunity to cash in on the Brazilian-born player.
After all, Costa will turn 31 in October and it is at that age when players can no longer command the transfer fees they could in their younger days. However, they still would be taking home sizable wage packets and it is well documented that Los Rojiblancos are operating at the limit of their budget.
A series of players are set to depart this summer. Lucas Hernandez has already gone to Bayern Munich while Diego Godin, Filipe Luis and Juanfran Torres are all out of contract. Midfield trio Saul Niguez, Thomas Partey and Rodri have all been linked with moves away while there is constant speculation relating to the future of Antoine Griezmann.
However, Costa has found the net just five times since rejoining Atleti in a then club record €66m deal from Chelsea in January 2018. He has had injury problems in the timeframe since but nonetheless has played over 30 game leagues and did not score a league goal between February and November last year.
Costa’s suspension is broken into two parts – four games for the alleged abuse of the referee and a further four matches for grabbing the official’s arm. Both acts were those of an ill-disciplined player and this is something that Atleti can not tolerate. They do not have the room for error to incorporate a liability who can cost them in big matches.
Diego Simeone’s side performed admirably in their 2-0 loss at the Camp Nou – going down to two late goals – but once Costa was dismissed in the first half the game was up. They needed a win to keep their slim title hopes alive but they were not able to come close to achieving it.
With Griezmann and Morata finding form leading the line for Atleti, Costa has been further sidelined and his positive relevance is steadily shrinking at the club.
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