Iso­lated Costa may soon be off into the night

Daily Mail - - Football - by NEIL ASHTON Foot­ball News Cor­re­spon­dent @neilash­ton_

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


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