Diego Costa returns to Premier League, however which different gamers are masters of the darkish arts?

Simply when Premier League centre-backs thought the coast was clear, Diego Costa has returned to torment the English high flight as soon as once more after finishing a free switch to Wolverhampton Wanderers.

The 33-year-old former Chelsea striker has arrived again in England after agreeing a short-term take care of Wolves that runs till the top of the season, having been with out a membership since leaving Brazilian facet Atletico Mineiro in January.

Introduced in as cowl for the injured Sasa Kalajdzic, Costa’s well timed arrival at Molineux was introduced utilizing a becoming video clip of the veteran striker stepping out of the shadows wielding a pack of snarling wolves on lengths of chain. Though he did not appear overly comfy with it, telling the membership web site: “I used to be scared to loss of life. Holding that chain I saved pondering, ‘What if this wolf thinks about leaping on high of me?’ after which the three of them did. … These have been wolves, not canines. It was a cool expertise however not a really comfy one. I’ve 5 canines, however they don’t seem to be wolves!”

Costa scored a completely respectable 52 targets in 89 video games throughout his first stint within the Premier League from 2014 to 2017, but in addition discovered infamy because of his routine dabbling in soccer’s darkish arts. He returns with a status as a fleetingly mercurial, unrelentingly tenacious and sometimes uncontrollably unstable determine. Sure, he could also be older now, however that’s unlikely to have dulled his edge in any respect.

– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, MLS, extra (U.S.)

The Spain worldwide was proven a powerful complete of 31 yellow playing cards throughout his three seasons at Chelsea, although let the document present that he obtained just one crimson card (in opposition to Everton within the quarterfinals of the 2015-16 FA Cup).

Nonetheless there have been loads of nudges, scrapes, scratches and scowls to go alongside all of the deliberate provocation and gamesmanship — however the place does Wolves’ new striker rank alongside the sport’s different modern-day Machiavellian masters?

Ramos boasts considered one of worst disciplinary data in trendy soccer, having been despatched off a complete of 27 occasions throughout his skilled profession. Whereas ostensibly skilful and composed, the 36-year-old centre-back is keen to plumb the depths of unhealthy sportsmanship if it means gaining a slight benefit over his opponents. Sadly for him, there’s a line, and Ramos usually crosses it in pretty reckless style.

Most heinous act: Few might look previous Ramos’ conduct through the 2018 Champions League last between Actual Madrid and Liverpool by which the Actual captain fairly actually pounced on Mohamed Salah and introduced the Egyptian winger’s night time to a untimely (and tear-strewn) finish with simply half-hour performed in Kiev.

Nonetheless going sturdy on the age of 39, Pepe solid a status throughout his time at Actual Madrid as probably the most aggressive defenders on this planet. Whereas onerous tackles have been routine, the Portugal worldwide additionally repeatedly deployed sneaky stamps, hair-pulls, trash discuss and different equally nefarious manoeuvres so as to achieve the higher hand.

Most heinous act: Pepe’s disciplinary rap sheet extends to a number of volumes, however his worst foul got here throughout his hot-headed Madrid pomp in 2009, when the centre-back knocked Javier Casquero to the bottom, misplaced his rag, snapped and instantly started kicking lumps out of the Getafe attacker as he lay susceptible and defenceless.

One of many best Italian centre-backs of all time, Chiellini follows in a grand lineage of stout, cussed defenders feared by attackers the world over. Like a number of of his predecessors, the Juventus legend was additionally very happy to modify to a extra bodily, antagonistic strategy if it meant holding his opponents at bay.

Most heinous act: There have been some extremely stiff lunges and industrial tackles through the years, however Chiellini’s most wanton act of destruction arguably got here within the Euro 2020 last. When abruptly confronted with a one-on-one dash in opposition to spry England winger Bukayo Saka within the 96th minute, the veteran defender as an alternative selected to haul the teenager to the ground utilizing his shirt collar, nearly relieving him of his head within the course of.

Each nice facet wants a gritty lynchpin, and Busquets fulfilled that function for each Barca and Spain as they set about conquering home, European and world soccer for a number of years all through the 2010s. As probably the most adorned footballers round, it is troublesome to admonish or undermine the defensive midfielder’s contribution, offering the mandatory grit in a silky clean, completely balanced, midfield unit alongside Andres Iniesta and Xavi.

Most heinous act: The only second that’s prone to encapsulate Busquets’ distinctive strategy to the darkish arts just isn’t a dreadful foul or a nasty off-the-ball indiscretion, however a glance — one single, sly peek by way of the fingers whereas mendacity on the bottom throughout a Champions League sport in opposition to Inter Milan in 2010. The Barca midfielder was clutching his face and writhing in agony after being “elbowed” by an Inter participant. Nonetheless, many onlookers instantly suspected that he is likely to be exaggerating his anguish and certain sufficient all doubt was duly eliminated when the cameras noticed Busquets had momentarily stopped writhing so as to craftily assess the scenario by way of his fingers from his vantage level on the ground.

And lo, the Busquets “Peekaboo” meme was born.

Uruguayans have a reputation for his or her famed nationwide preventing spirit with “Garra Charrua” actually translating into English as “the Claw of the Charrua” — the “Charrua” being the indigenous tribe who referred to as the South American nation its residence in historic occasions. Few gamers have embodied that unflinching tenacity and grit greater than Suarez, who concurrently features as probably the most technically gifted footballers the nation has ever produced in addition to one of many unapologetically obnoxious.

Most heinous act: There could be little doubt as to what Suarez’s most fiendish transgression was, and by pure coincidence it additionally occurs to contain one other rogue beforehand talked about on this gallery. The yr was 2010. The place was the Area das Dunas in Natal, Brazil. The event: the World Cup group sport between Uruguay and Italy. The crime? Tried cannibalism.

Whereas Toni Kroos and Luka Modric did all of the silky stuff, Casemiro grew to become an intrinsic a part of Actual Madrid’s celebrated midfield trio by advantage of a easy willingness to do all of the mucky jobs throughout matches and thus releasing up his teammates to go about their extra elaborate enterprise. Now holding fort for Manchester United, the Brazilian has continued in an analogous vein whereas aptitude gamers corresponding to Bruno Fernandes and Christian Eriksen focus their efforts on pulling the strings additional upfield.

Most heinous act: Casemiro left Madrid with a cavalcade of crunching tackles and tactical fouls in his wake, however the worst of all should certainly be the grievous point-blank assault he dedicated on Fred, kicking the ball into his personal teammate whereas on worldwide obligation with Brazil. Can be fascinating to see if the identical factor occurs at Man United now.

Supply hyperlink