Diego Costa to Manchester City: Why the move makes no sense

Robin Bairner
Robin Bairner Updated: 19 May 2021 15:43 BST 3 min read
Diego Costa to Manchester City: Why the move makes no sense

Diego Costa would be a title-winning signing for Manchester City. At least, that is the opinion of former defender Micah Richards.

Available on a free transfer following his release from Atletico Madrid, the veteran Spain forward has been surprisingly short of public interest since departing the Spanish capital due to personal reasons.

Richards, though, believes that the notoriously hard-nosed Costa could make all the difference for City as they seek to regain their Premier League title.

Costa and Guardiola: A clash of cultures

Firstly, it should be noted that there has not been a suggestion that this is a deal that might happen. Richards was simply stating it was a transfer he would like to see Manchester City complete.

It has, however, quickly gained attention.

Perhaps the greatest reason for that is that Costa’s attributes as a footballer are so diametrically opposed to those that City boss Pep Guardiola values.

Costa is the footballing equivalent of crowbar, a player who will succeed through brute force and strength of will. Guardiola, though, has always been a coach who prefers a more subtle approach.

Throughout his coaching career, the Man City boss has never played with a forward who so leans on his physical attributes.

“Diego Costa would do more than just ruffle a few feathers and be a pain in the backside for opposition defences – he is a proven finisher who would offer Pep Guardiola’s side a proper plan B,” Richards argued.

While Guardiola have moved away from the extreme form of tiki-taka that he employed at Barcelona, he is still a coach who values possession of the ball more than anything.

Indeed, there has always been a sense that having the “plan B” suggested would only serve to undermine their plan A. The closest that Guardiola has come to experimenting with a traditional target man was Zlatan Ibrahimovic at Barcelona – and that ended in disaster.

Could Costa fit in?

Costa, meanwhile, has limited experience of playing in such a side. He made his name playing for Atletico Madrid in a Diego Simeone side that encapsulated the gritty aspects of the game and thrived. At Chelsea, meanwhile, he worked primarily under Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte, two managers with very different ideologies to Guardiola.

A run of 12 goals in 20 matches under Guus Hiddink at Chelsea, however, suggests that he could be effective in a more dynamic side.

Furthermore, 24 caps for Spain with a return of 10 goals adds weight to that theory, although he was never able to feature regularly for La Roja. Indeed, he was frequently criticised for his performances.

Injury issues

More recently, game time has been hard to come by because of physical issues. He missed 12 matches this season because of injury and has only 204 minutes of football under his belt since mid-July.

City certainly need backup to the injury-prone Sergio Aguero, but gambling on a player who has himself missed more than 50% of his side’s fixtures this term does not seem to be a logical way to solve that issue.

The prospect of him reaching anything like full match sharpness over a short period – like the chance of him signing – seems fanciful.