Manchester City midfielder Fernandinho has named Diego Costa as the ‘most difficult’ opponent he has come up against.
The Brazilian has faced the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo during an illustrious career but says the notoriously tricky former Chelsea striker was the toughest to get the better of.
The pair clashed in an August 2015 Premier League fixture at the Etihad Stadium when Costa was convinced Fernandinho deliberately elbowed him in the side of the head.
Manchester City’s Fernandinho (left) has described the former Chelsea striker Diego Costa (right) as the ‘most difficult’ opponent he has come up against
Costa was left needing treatment after Fernandinho ‘elbowed’ him in the side of the head during a fiery City vs Chelsea clash at the Etihad Stadium in August 2015
Costa believed that Fernandinho should have been sent off for the incident back in 2015
Costa was left bloodied and needing treatment then tried to confront Fernandinho as the players headed down the tunnel at half-time.
Chelsea’s manager at the time Jose Mourinho suggested Fernandinho should have been sent off, but the Brazilian said Costa was ‘always trying to offend the opposition.’
But Fernandinho clearly maintained some respect for the Spaniard, who left Chelsea to return to Atletico Madrid in 2017.
‘The most difficult players I’ve faced are Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, Kylian Mbappe – all of them are so good and they cause a lot of problems to defenders,’ he told former Manchester United player Kleberson in a Q&A session.
‘But for me, one of the most difficult guys I’ve faced was Diego Costa when he was at Chelsea. He was in good shape. I hope I can face them again.’
The Brazilian midfielder comes up against Costa during a game with Chelsea in 2014
Fernandinho clearly retains plenty of respect for the striker, now at Atletico Madrid
Fernandinho, who turns 35 on May 4, spent most of the season playing at centre back for City before the coronavirus shutdown.
He was forced to drop back from his regular midfield position following the departure of long-serving centre half Vincent Kompany and a long-term injury to Aymeric Laporte.
But Fernandinho says he was happy to adapt in order to help out the team.
‘Pep Guardiola came to me and talked to me about moving into this position – I have played a few games there before,’ he said.
‘During this season we have had so many problems with injuries and then he moved me to play as a centre-back.
Pep Guardiola has played Fernandinho at centre-back this season amid defensive shortages
‘For me it was okay because the way we play most of the time I get the ball and most of the games we have the highest possession of the ball, and for me it was no problem.
‘Of course it’s a little bit different from playing as a midfielder but in the season I was adapting my game and I think I am settled now.
‘Sometimes you have to sacrifice yourself for the good of the team and this is one of the sacrifices I have made for Manchester City. I hope we can be successful in the future.
‘If I am playing as a centre-half or a defensive midfielder, for me the most important thing is to get the result and victory a the end. I am learning but I am enjoying this moment.’