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The curious case of Douglas Costa

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There’s plenty of talk about selling the Brazilian winger, but is that the right personnel move?

Bayern Muenchen v Borussia Dortmund - Bundesliga
Are the day numbered for Douglas Costa at Bayern Munich?
Alexander Scheuber/Getty Images

Douglas Costa is 26 years old and entering what should be the prime portion of his playing career. Whether or not the Brazilian winger will be playing for Bayern Munich those peak years is subject to speculation.

According to a swirl of media reports, Costa will be playing at either Barcelona, Juventus or Liverpool next season, as Bayern acquires players like Serge Gnabry that point toward the club selling Costa just two seasons after his €30 million move from Shakhtar Donetsk.

Why would Bayern look to move Costa now? Perhaps it’s to finance a deal for Arsenal’s Chilean scoring dynamo, Alexis Sanchez. Maybe it’s selling a player who was a revelation in Pep Guardiola’s last season as coach and now has become a luxury for current manager Carlo Ancelotti.

Costa’s first season with Bayern was in 2015-16 and he played in 43 matches across all competitions (including the DFL-Supercup). He scored seven goals, created plenty of scoring chances while deployed primarily on the left wing.

In 2016-17, Costa played in 34 matches mostly at left wing and still scored seven goals, including a memorable strike against against Darmstadt.

While the goal-scoring output was the same, Costa played nine fewer matches this season and nearly 1,400 fewer minutes (1,925 minutes in 2016-17 down from 3,378 in 2015-16).

Costa did deal with hamstring and knee injuries in 2016-17 as well as resurgent form from Franck Ribery. Couple that with Ancelotti’s preference for veteran players such as Ribery and it’s even easier to explain Costa’s reduction in matches and minutes.

A player who appears to be surplus to requirements in the summer, however, inevitably can become a valuable asset in the fall, winter and spring.

Arjen Robben and Ribery are likely the first-choice wingers as long as Ancelotti’s in charge, though the extensive injury histories of both players demand depth at their positions. Costa is a proven commodity that Ancelotti can turn to as opposed to younger players such as Gnabry and Kingsley Coman.

Will Costa be around next season to add to his Bayern highlight reel? That is fodder for the comments section.