Chelsea striker Diego Costa feels he has been harshly treated by Spanish media because he doesn’t play for Barcelona or Real Madrid or was not born in Spain.
The 27-year-old former Atletico Madrid striker took aim at the press following Spain’s 2-0 win over Belgium on Wednesday.
“Yourselves, the journalists, you should assess my performance in this friendly, but I felt I did well,” said Costa.
“If I was at Real Madrid or Barca, you would be saying that I had a great game but as I am not a natural Spaniard, people always criticise me in a special way.
“I won’t change, even if I’m criticised. It’s true that I’m wrong sometimes but I don’t need anyone to tell me. I can do self-criticism. My team-mates trust me.”
Costa, a Brazilian by birth, represented Brazil in international friendlies against Italy and Russia, before opting to play for Spain after he had lived and played in the country for six years.
He made his debut for La Roja in 2014 and has gone on to play in 11 international games, including his outing against Belgium.
He didn’t make Spain’s Euro 2016 squad with Vicente Del Bosque opting for Alvaro Morata, Nolito, Pedro, and Aritz Aduriz instead as his forward options.
One of the major critiques about Costa (apart from being a controversial figure) is that the striker fails to replicate his club performances for his nation.
In the past two years since he made his debut, Costa has managed only one goal for Spain, whereas his club record at Chelsea (34 goals in 57 Premier League games) is far better.
Costa, however, did put in a decent performance against Belgium, providing David Silva with an assist for the first of his two efforts.
He has started the 2016-17 season brightly for the Blues and has been directly involved in three of Chelsea’s six league goals scored this season (two goals, one assist).
The Spanish press is naturally critical of their players but there is a tendency to scrutinise the performances of foreign players more harshly.
For example, Gareth Bale received a fair amount of criticism from the press during his early part of his career at Madrid. However, he has won back the hearts of Madrid fans with consistent top-drawer performances in the last 12 months.
The same goes for Costa as well. He is a reliable goalscorer for his club, but he needs to score regularly for his country – that is, when the Spanish press are watching and when they think it matters.
The good news for him is he has the support of his international teammates, and as long as he’s scoring for Chelsea, he will get more opportunities for Spain to show that he belongs in the international arena as well.