The message of Spain’s Julen Lopetegui for Diego Costa is “we love you just the way you are” and the coach does not intend to curb his star forward’s aggressive approach.
Costa’s attitude has been questioned after a number of high-profile on-field clashes, but he has also been in fine form for Chelsea this season, scoring 17 times in the Premier League for Antonio Conte’s frontrunners.
And Lopetegui has told the 28-year-old not to change, as he loves Costa’s competitive nature.
“If you are with us it is because we consider that your presence is important,” the coach told the media and Costa ahead of a World Cup qualifier against Israel. “We love you just the way you are.
“He has many good things and many to improve. We want him a little angry. Not a lot, but a little, yes, because he expresses this in his football as always.
“We love that part of Diego and we look for it.”
— Selección Española (@SeFutbol) March 23, 2017
Lopetegui is also looking to secure Gerard Pique’s international future – the Barcelona defender having announced his intention to retire after the next World Cup – but realises the focus at present must be on beating Israel on Friday.
“We respect what he said and that is it,” Lopetegui added. “This week we have spoken, but we have other priorities like to prepare for this match.
“We want to play at the World Cup and the three points against Israel are a priority for us.”