The competition between forwards Diego Costa and Eduardo Salvio was under the spotlight throughout the summer, as the pair were battling it out for Atleti’s last non-EU roster slot. Initially, reports had tabbed the Brazilian as the man to be released.
“I arrived overweight and that caused everyone to doubt me,” said Costa.
Despite a string of remarkable performances by the attacker to begin the pre-season, it remained a practical certainty that he would be the one loaned out. On August 10, manager Quique Sánchez Flores submitted his provisional list of 41 players for the UEFA Super Cup, and Costa’s name was not included, further fueling speculation of his departure.
“It didn’t surprise me at all to be left off the list. Things were very clear at first, and I knew that I would be the one to leave,” said the striker.
As the exhibition matches progressed, Salvio – who had the natural advantage due to the exorbitant fee paid to bring him in – failed to convince Quique that he could fulfill the club’s third striker role. It became clear to Sánchez Flores that Costa was the man for the job, and his decision was confirmed when Salvio was sent to Benfica on a one-year loan.
On the coach’s selection, the young striker said “I have worked hard, and I have proved my worth. I’m very grateful to the manager and to my team-mates, and I want to show that I have earned the right to stay.”
“I feel really bad for ‘Toto’. He is a wonderful team-mate and friend to have, and he’s an excellent person. He’s a ten in the dressing room. Unfortunately, football has these things about it.”
“Now, I can only wish him the best,” said the 21 year-old.
Costa is aware that his next challenge is to earn playing time over fellow attackers Agüero and Forlán.
“I have my feet grounded on the floor. I know Forlán and Kun are phenomenal forwards and they have the coach’s trust, but I will be there whenever he needs me.
“I hope to get some minutes and I want to complicate things for those two,” he assured.
Finally, the forward expressed his confidence about the team’s chances in the Super Cup against Inter.
“The coach has his team in mind and I have to be ready just in case. We will give our all to bring this title to Madrid, let there be no doubts about it.”