Diego Costa has taken the Premier League by storm with his brash brand of physical forward play, rattling in goals for fun and roughing up defenders with an edgy panache. But it seems the Spanish international striker has a sensitive side too, as revealed by manager Jose Mourinho.
According to the Portuguese boss, who likely had tongue firmly planted in cheek, Costa is prone to shedding tears after he picks up yellow cards. The claim was made in the aftermath of Chelsea’s 2-0 win over Hull City, a game in which the £32 million forward scored, but also accrued a controversial booking for simulation from referee Chris Foy.
And as it would happen, when Mourinho was discussing the incident in his post-match interview, the referee walked past. Subsequently, the Blues boss had this to say to Foy, per Darren Lewis of The Mirror:
You have to ask Mr Foy – look at him! Mr Foy! Mr Foy! Tell the guys, please! Come and tell them! Diego Costa is crying because you gave him a yellow card! He is crying in the dressing room! And these guys are asking me why.
While Foy’s handing of a handkerchief to Mourinho suggests these comments should be taken lightly, there is a serious issue to be examined here. As noted in Lewis’ piece, Costa has already picked up seven yellow cards in his Chelsea career and has been lucky to stay on the pitch on a couple of occasions after rash judgements.
This is a facet of his game that will simply never abate, though. It’s Costa's raw stylistic principles that make him such a special player after all. It’s what made him a phenomenon in La Liga last season, and why the Spanish would say that he had “mala leche”—which translates to "bad milk"—meaning he possesses an abundance of nastiness and edge.
But Mourinho thinks the persona Costa conjured at Atletico Madrid means he is being treated unfairly in England, claiming the player has already made subtle changes to his attitude, per Lewis’ piece:
I think when Costa was at Atletico Madrid he created a certain image, and people don’t believe he can change.
People don’t believe in the way that we teach him what England is – the mentality, what people accept, what people don’t accept, what is a red card. People don’t understand that he is intelligent enough to understand it. And to change – because he has changed.
Earlier in the season, Everton boss Roberto Martinez criticised Costa after his goading of Seamus Coleman following the Irishman’s own goal, claiming the forward must learn the requisite “ethics” for the English game, per BBC Sport. But you suspect deep down, Chelsea fans and Mourinho wouldn’t have him any other way.
His manager may have to tolerate the odd ban now and then, though, as we can see here courtesy of Squawka Football:
Costa's qualities have seen him notch a very impressive 12 goals in 13 Premier League games this season, and his coalescence of forensic finishing, rumbustious hold-up play and classic wind-up merchanting has added a brand new dimension to this Chelsea attack. For all the excellent acquisitions made in the summer by Mourinho, Costa looks to be the finest.
He may become a marked man after indulging in his fair share of skullduggery and underhand tactics, but there’s little denying he’s been a thrill to watch in the Premier League this season; bending the rules in order to win matches and score goals is simply part of the package when it comes to the former Atletico man.
With that in mind, there are not many of us—neutrals or Chelsea supporters alike—who would like to see a diluted version of one of the Premier League’s most engrossing personalities. Anyway, if Costa keeps it up and fires his team towards major honours, there could be tears of an entirely different variety at Stamford Bridge come the end of the campaign.