Diogo Costa has responded when asked about a potential £65 million move to Manchester United as Erik ten Hag looks to bring a ball-playing goalkeeper to the Premier League giants.
On first viewing, you’d be forgiven for assuming the Portugal international had opted to pour water – rather than fuel – on the speculation pyre.
But, if you’ll forgive us for putting on our tinfoil hats, was there a hidden meaning to Costa’s words? Something a little more cryptic, perhaps?
Karim Benzema, after all, responded with an almost identical quote when asked about whether or not he would be leaving Real Madrid.
“Reality is not the internet,” said the 2022 Ballon D’Or winner.
Just a few days later, Benzema’s departure from the Santiago Bernabau was confirmed; the Real Madrid icon jetting out to Saudi Arabia ahead of a potential reunion with former Blancos team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo.
Was Costa making a knowing reference to a man who leaves Real Madrid as their second-highest goalscorer of all time? Or was this simply a coincidence?
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Costa did add that starring between the sticks for Porto – his ‘favourite club’ – was ‘an honour’.
But the chance to play such a major role in the second phase of Erik ten Hag’s Red Devils rebuild may be one simply too good for arguably Europe’s next-best goalkeeper to turn down, Saturday’s galling FA Cup final defeat to Manchester City once again highlighting David de Gea’s increasingly-obvious deficiencies in a number of different areas.
An outstanding distributor with the passing range of a seasoned playmaker; Costa would undoubtedly be a better fit for Ten Hag’s ‘build from the back’ principles. A Bola report that he is likely to leave Porto this summer. And while a £65 million release clause brings water to your eyes, Manchester United can free up funds – and a place in Ten Hag’s – by selling Dean Henderson to Nottingham Forest for a fee in the £30 million bracket.
“For me, he is the new Vitor Baia, who was once one of the best in the history of Portuguese football. If not the best,” Porto legend Ljubinko Drulovic tells O Jogo.
“Diogo Costa is usually in the Portuguese national team and has a lot of quality. He is a young man with excellent potential. A very big asset for FC Porto,” Drulovic adds.
“He will be sold sooner or later, because he has a lot of interest.”
A move to Manchester would see Costa reunite with Portugal team-mates Bruno Fernandes, Diogo Dalot and – potentially – Goncalo Ramos too.