Diego Costa lost the plot yesterday afternoon and it all kicked off. He spat at the ref’s feet and went for a bite out of the neck of Everton’s Gareth Barry. He was sent off going utterly mental in the process. He’s an outstanding striker but has some behavioural issues that don’t seem to be diminishing with the passing of the years. Del Bosque put him in the Spanish national side with Villa and Torres on the wane and the rising talents (Soldado, Negredo, Llorente) struggling to break through, seeing him as a solution to a problem. He was to a certain extent a bit of a wager: he went to Brazil to play for Spain, and who knew then if he might end up playing against Brazil.
Things didn’t go well, there in Brazil (although he won a penalty that gave us, Spain, the only goal against Holland). He’s only scored one goal for Spain in 10 games. Del Bosque has kept calling him up, after every failure, possibly still grateful for his decision to go with Spain at a difficult time. But he doesn’t fit into the way Spain plays, and he doesn’t fit into the group, where the boundaries of trouble-making are set by Piqué, whose limit is substantially lower than his. Meanwhile other strikers are doing well: Morata, Alcácer and surprisingly Aduriz, who gets better and better as the years go by.
This Friday Del Bosque will announce the latest Spain squad. An important one, given how close the European Championships are. To me it seems like a stupendous opportunity for Del Bosque not to call up Costa, whose misbehaviour has now gone beyond all tolerable limits. Del Bosque could feel at peace with his conscience: he’s done far more to make Diego Costa a part of the Spanish side than the player himself has done to keep his place. Today’s incident is the last straw, and at the same time it offers a way out of the situation. Mortal, Alcácer and Aduriz are there and there are no issues with any of them. It wasn’t a bad idea to try Diego Costa, but it hasn’t turned out well.