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Monday, April 8, 2019

Diego Costa's Atletico Madrid career in jeopardy as he awaits possible eight-game ban

Diego Costa may have played his last game for Atletico Madrid depending on Wednesday's Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) decision on how many games he will be banned after his sending off at the Camp Nou.

Costa faces a ban of between two and eight games after the direct red he received in Atletico's 2-0 defeat at Barcelona.

When RFEF's disciplinary committee sits on Wednesday it could give the minimum two-game ban for a straight red but that seems unlikely because of the nature of the insult referee Jesus Gil Manzano claims was directed his way by the player.

Diego Costa's Atletico Madrid career in jeopardy as he awaits possible eight-game ban

Gil said in his match report that Costa twice said to him: 'I s*** on you w**** mother'. Some speculation in Spain suggests that could land Costa a four-game ban but his punishment might not end there.

The referee's report also accuses Costa of holding the referee's arm so as to prevent him taking out more cards for his team-mates.

Gil's report read: 'Once sent-off, still on the pitch, he grabbed my arm to prevent me from showing yellow cards to his team-mates No 24 [Jose Gimenez] and No 2 [Diego Godin].' 

There are only seven games left in La Liga and even if Costa's ban fall short of that number he could still find himself out in the cold until the summer when the club must decide whether or not he stays or is sold.

Costa has only played 21 of Atletico's 41 matches this season and has only scored five goals. He was booked in the club's Champions League last-16 first leg with Juventus ruling him out of the second leg in Turin. And he let the team down again at the weekend.

Sources close to the club in Madrid have speculated since Saturday's defeat that patience has run out and the offers for the 30-year-old will be listened to at the end of the season.

Atletico coach Diego Simeone has long defended Costa but he could be seen shaking his head as Costa went off down the tunnel on Saturday.

'He transmits a positive vibe around the place,' Simeone said of Costa earlier in the season. 'He is aggressive and intense and stretches the opposition giving the forwards more space to play in between the lines.' 

He likes the idea of Costa leading the line and Antoine Griezmann and Alvaro Morata operating just behind him but even he is beginning to envisage an Atletico without the former Chelsea striker. 

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