"Diego Costa, the experiment that failed" - that is the headline of a MARCA story summing up Spain's dismal showing at the FIFA World Cup tournament in Brazil.
The Atletico Madrid striker, once described by Arsene Wenger as an animal, was in rampant form throughout the season at club level, netting 27 goals and providing three assists from 35 La Liga outings and eight goals and one assist from nine Champions League matches.
The Vicente Calderon side's success last term - reaching the Champions League final and destroying the Barcelona and Real Madrid duopoly on La Liga by lifting the Primera Liga trophy - was marked by Costa's consistent prolificacy.
So much so, that Chelsea and Jose Mourinho were alerted to his potential availability and were ready to meet the player's contractual release clause - £32 million.
Costa, though, failed to replicate his Atleti form to the international stage in what was a hostile environment for him personally as he rejected Brazil call-ups in order to honour his naturalised country - Spain.
"Vicente del Bosque put his faith in Diego Costa to be one of his team's lethal weapons," write MARCA. "Although many had their hopes pinned on the Spanish-Brazilian player, he failed to live up to those expectations, despite being a starter against the Netherlands and Chile."
|Nation||Pos||Touch /App||Total Pass /App||Pass Acc||Shots/ App||Shot Acc||Chance Create||Assist||Goal||App||Min|
In his combined appearances at the World Cup to date, Costa received just 25 touches on the football per game, on average, attempted just 16 passes each match with a limited accuracy of 71%, unleashed five shots but never found the target while returning no goals and no assists.
Additionally, he was guilty of unsucessful touches, missed chances, lost duels both aerially and at ground-level, was dispossessed five times and, of all his passes, just 6% were in the most threatening of directions - into the final third.
By no means should Costa be scapegoated for what is a team well advanced in age and effectiveness after six years of dominance. Neither should Costa be expected to adapt to a different strategy and return an immediate impact - the approach utilised by Vicente del Bosque for Spain after all is a stark contrast in nature to how Diego Simeone sets up his Atleti team.
For Costa's transition to be more successful, he may have benefited from the inclusion of Koke Resurreccion from the off, who he had partnered with so frequently in the final third for Atleti in La Liga, rather than be expected to fit in to a tiki-taki system. Playmaker Koke and predator Costa linked up on numerous occasions last term, with the former assisting his forward the most frequently out of all Atleti personnel.
Regardless of whether it is Costa who is the 'failure' or Spain as a whole - who now must look to the future rather than their aging legends (Iker Casillas, Xavi, et al) - the striker will unlikely have such an arduous task fitting in within the Premier League as the Chelsea system is far more familiar to what he was accustomed to under the tutelage of Simeone.