Isolated Costa may soon be off into the night
JOSE MOURINHO’S golden rule for the first-team squad is that they are not allowed to drink alcohol or have late nights out in the 48 hours before Chelsea games.
It will come as little surprise then, given Diego Costa’s penchant for a party and a traditional Brazilian churrasco, that the Chelsea forward’s nocturnal lifestyle sails pretty close to the wind.
On Sunday, when Costa realised Chelsea’s manager had settled for a robust, 0-0 draw against Tottenham, his pink bib flew through the air at White Hart Lane.
It fell just short of landing on Mourinho’s head and yet the manager is happy his £32million striker has the raging hump with the decision to bench him for the London derby.
And therefore Costa will not be fined for his dramatic show of dissent and will report, along with the rest of the squad, for training tomorrow to start preparing for the weekend’s Barclays Premier League match against Bournemouth.
When Costa arrives, no- one can ever be quite sure what mood he will be in because the Spain international is regarded as a classic Jekyll and Hyde character. In a matter of seconds he can go from the brooding, menacing figure who would not give a second’s thought to standing on a teammate’s toes to suddenly being the joker in the pack. He is an unpredictable type.
No- one is quite sure how to handle him, although Chelsea consistently maintain that the striker is one of the most popular members of the squad.
Mourinho is deliberately provoking him, trying to push the buttons so that the forward, who scored 21 times in his first season at Stamford Bridge, will hit another purple patch.
This has not been an easy period for Costa, particularly after admitting he had returned for pre-season training carrying the summer’s excesses around his waistline.
His combustible relationship with Mourinho, which can be traced back to last season, was played out in public last week when the pair were involved in a heated exchange during the 4- 0 victory over Maccabi Tel Aviv in Haifa in the Champions League. They clashed last season in spectacular circumstances when Mourinho had given his players four days off to celebrate the club’s fourth Premier League title after their 1- 0 victory over Crystal Palace.
Costa came back on the fifth day after returning from Madrid and was immediately dropped by Mourinho for the 1-1 draw with Liverpool on May 10. The Chelsea striker has felt aggrieved ever since.
In the 18 months since he arrived in English football, Costa has failed to properly settle or embed himself in a climate and culture that is very different from the one he left behind in Madrid.
He has failed to learn the language and — as the holder of a European Union passport — is under no obligation to do so. Non-EU citizens, such as Brazilian Ramires, must learn English.
Costa has surrounded himself with friends and family at his home in Oxshott, a mile or so to the east of Chelsea’s training centre in Cobham, Surrey. They keep him company for weeks at a time.
He will need an arm around his shoulder now that Mourinho has made it clear that he expects Costa to start finding the back of the net again in Chelsea colours.
It is too soon to discuss a move away from the club, but it is only a matter of time before his future is raised in the January transfer window.
When that moment arrives, Costa could disappear into the night.
Feeling the chill: Costa is being tested by Mourinho