Diego Costa arrives in Madrid for pre-season, four days late

Diego Costa touched down in Madrid today, four days late for Atletico Madrid’s pre-season training.

The Brazilian is set to meet with the club to explain his late arrival to new Coach Gregorio Manzano’s training camp that started on Monday, with Atleti then to decide whether to fine the player, or push forward with selling him. Manzano hinted earlier in the week on a radio station that action will certainly be taken one way or another.

The 22-year-old Brazilian’s future was in doubt before this incident, with the squad needing sell one of its five non-EU internationals to fit in with the League’s limit of four per club.

Having returned to Atletico from Valladolid for a €1m buy-back fee last summer, Costa was expected to push Diego Forlan for a place alongside Sergio Aguero in attack, but even as the Uruguayan struggled, Costa offered the team little of the consistency they were after.

Costa was instead predominantly used as a third striker playing behind Forlan and Aguero, or as a substitute, but was regularly criticised for his attempts to beat defenders where a pass was viewed as the easier option. A highlight came towards the end of the campaign when he netted a hat-trick against Osasuna. In Forlan’s absence, it drew praise from both Quique Sanchez Flores and the Press, but from 27 other League appearances in the season, the player scored just three times more.

The protracted, but expected, arrival of Adrian Lopez from Deportivo is being cited as a direct replacement for Costa, whilst this latest incident does the player no favours in his attempts to stay at the club either. It is not the first time he has returned to training amid controversy, as at the end of last summer he turned up to great criticism, 7kg overweight and bizarrely, sunburnt.

Interestingly though, where they may wish offload the youngster this summer, the club have started preparations for July 28’s opening fixture of the 2011-12 campaign, a preliminary qualifying round for the Europa League, and Costa is the only first-team striker available for selection.

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