Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa is set to be named in the next Spain squad, despite having already made two friendly appearances for his native Brazil.
Costa, 24, was born in the north-eastern Brazilian province of Sergipe, and joined Atletico Madrid in 2007. After initially being regularly sent out on loan he has blossomed under Diego Simeone, and is currently La Liga’s ‘Pichichi’ with seven goals in his first six games this season.
Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari called up Costa for friendlies in March 2013 against Italy and Russia, but left him out of the squad for the Confederations Cup, with Jo and Fred getting the two central striking berths.
Costa took Spanish citizenship last July, and El Pais reports that Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) officials have now prepared the relevant paperwork and expect the formalities to be completed in time for Vicente del Bosque to name the bustling forward in his squad for Spain’s qualifiers at home to Belarus and Georgia in early October.
Del Bosque has regularly tried different players in a central striking role, including Alvaro Negredo, David Villa, Roberto Soldado, Fernando Llorente and Cesc Fabregas, without finding a solution he was fully happy with.
Capping Costa would also have the happy -- for Spain -- result of denying one of their main rivals for next summer's World Cup access to a player who is currently in superb form.
The player himself has been coy whenever asked about the possibility of switching countries, but is thought to like the idea of playing for the reigning world and European champions.
Costa’s Atletico team-mate Koke -- who only made his senior Spain debut in August, but has played in all three La Roja games since -- told AS that Costa was lucky to have such a choice to make.
“I do not know as I am not Diego Costa,” Koke said. “He has the great luck to decide between Spain and Brazil. He is a great player. We have not asked him, we will see what he decides.”
Colchoneros goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois pointed out that the practice of ‘naturalising’ Brazilians was pretty common even among established European nations.
“In Belgium there are also players like this who have to choose between two teams, some are Brazilian and play for the national team,” Courtois said. “It depends where you feel you are from, it is something we must respect.”
AS says the RFEF are also making a similar move to include another Brazil-born Atletico player, Leo Baptistao, in the next Spain Under-21 squad. The 21-year-old forward, who arrived in Spain to join Rayo Vallecano aged 16, has not yet taken Spanish citizenship but could do so in the coming weeks.