Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has denied reports he will guarantee Diego Costa a spot in his World Cup finals squad should the Atletico Madrid striker turn down Spain and remain with his home country.
Costa is currently the subject of a ‘tug-of-war’ between the two nations, with Brazil apparently looking to thwart a plan by Spain to take advantage of FIFA ‘naturalisation’ rules and get him to play for them.
It had seemed Costa had decided to declare for Spain, with their coach, Vicente del Bosque, and many players welcoming the move; however, reports have suggested that Scolari is set to visit Madrid in the coming weeks to persuade the attacker to change his mind.
Speaking after Brazil’s 2-0 friendly win over Zambia in Peking, Scolari said Costa would get a place in his preliminary list for next summer’s finals, and then they would see about the final 23.
“I said that Diego Costa would be called up,” Scolari said. “But only in the group of 45 players in whom we are interested and from which we will choose final squad.”
Scolari also suggested that Fluminense forward Fred, who is currently sidelined through injury, remains his first choice up front, while Brazil also had plenty of other attacking options.
“When Fred recovers, he will be in the team,” Scolari said. “We need three players for that spot. I gave a chance to Pato, Lucas has been playing... Now we must make some judgements.”
The World Cup hosts have friendlies in November against Honduras and Russia. Spain’s fixtures for that international break have not been confirmed, but reports suggest they will play Russia in Dubai and visit an African country, perhaps Gabon or South Africa. Costa could now potentially be named in both country’s squads, and then have to choose which group to join up with.
Either way, as neither side have a competitive fixture until next summer’s World Cup finals begin, the saga could drag on even past that competition. AS has predicted the case could be heard by both FIFA’s Players' Status Committee and the world governing body’s Dispute Resolution Chamber before any final decision is made.