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« on: July 20, 2019, 07:34:16 PM »

Douglas Costa found his first few weeks at Bayern Munich difficult. The former Shakhtar Donetsk ace was now at a massive club in an unfamiliar city where they spoke a different language. "He also told me about [Lionel] Messi," the Brazilian revealed. "He said 'not to become Messi, because there's only one Messi.' "'But you can do other things, things nobody else can do.'" Guardiola wasn't wrong. Imbued with the Catalan's confidence, Costa took the Bundesliga by storm, racking up 10 assists, in his first seven appearances. Guardiola was in no doubt that a star had been born. "He'll be a top, top player for years to come," the former Barcelona boss enthused. So dramatic was Costa's dip in form under the Italian, that Bayern agreed to loan him to Juventus last summer for _6 million, with a view to a permanent transfer at Maglia Calcio Bambino the end of the 2017-18 campaign for an additional _40m. Club president Uli Hoeness was happy to see the back of the Brazilian. "Costa didn't work out because he was quite a mercenary whose character we didn't like", he told Frankenpost last August. "I always found him an interesting player," he admitted. "All he would have to do is reach the same level again that he was playing at during his first season with us." In the end, though, Costa was allowed to leave. It, initially, looked like a shrewd decision, as the 27-year-old initially struggled to adapt to Serie A. Paulo Dybala was so poor in the midweek draw at Crotone that he might not even start in Turin, while fellow Argentine Gonzalo Higuain has now gone six games without a goal in all competitions. Of course, both men have the requisite talent to get back among the goals against Napoli but if they do, Costa will probably be their creator. He has set up Juve's last four goals, coming off the bench to rack up a hat-trick of assists in last weekend's 3-0 win over Sampdoria before teeing up compatriot Alex Sandro for the opener at Crotone on Wednesday. All of this, remember, has come after he absolutely terrorised his international team-mate Marcelo for 90 minutes of Juventus' 3-1 victory over Real Madrid in the second leg of their absorbing Champions League quarter-final second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu. That night in the Spanish capital, he was the Douglas Costa of Bayern, burning one player after another with his blistering pace before peppering the penalty area with dangerous crosses. Of course, Napoli have their own attacking threats. No player has PSG Fotballdrakt created more chances in Serie A this season than Lorenzo Insigne, who was instrumental in the Partenopei's stirring come-from-behind victory over Udinese, a result which saw Maurizio Sarri's side draw to within four points of Juve at the summit of the standings. Dries Mertens, in particular, has looked increasingly jaded of late, as underlined by his dismal return of just two goals from his last 10 outings.  There is arguably no more effective player in the league right now.  Only Luis Alberto has more assists than Costa, while only Alejandro Gomez has completed more dribbles. Those are remarkable figures for a player that has amassed just 1498 minutes of game time. What it underlines, though, is what Guardiola used to tell Costa on a daily basis. He can be one of the game's great difference-makers _ just for Juventus now, rather than Bayern.

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