Having signed for Wolverhampton Wanderers as one of the first of their Portuguese contingent, much was expected of Helder Costa upon arriving in England. Seen as a bright talent with the chance to win senior international caps, Costa made the move fully expecting to break into the first-team sooner rather than later. However, despite some moments of class, he failed to make the move to Wolves count. Playing occasionally for the club as they broke into the top flight and made a name for themselves under Nuno Espirito Santo, Costa was soon on the move again – loaned to Leeds United.
As a permanent signing for Leeds last summer, much was expected of Costa after a solid year in the English Championship. However, so far, his top flight season for Leeds has barely been anything to shout home about. The Portuguese has come under some fire from former players in the press, too, notable Noel Whelan. The former Leeds forward was critical of Costa, saying that he believes he has ‘no intelligent on the ball’ and has been a failure for the £17m fee that was mooted.
With Costa, it would be hard to disagree on the assessment so far. The Portuguese brings running power and directness, but often lacks craft in his decision making and his ability to make the right play. His goal and assist counts are poor for such an outlay, too, leading to many fans and pundits wondering how much more gametime he will get for Leeds this season.
Marcelo Bielsa has been noted as a fan, but even he has limited patience when it comes to players failing to deliver. Given the large fee paid, it would be fair to say that Costa has failed to produce anything like the expected standard.
Will Helder Costa leave Leeds United in the summer?
At the moment, you would expect so; but who will make the signing for a fee that Leeds can feel is a good return on investment?
Given that much of the money spent in European football comes from the English leagues, it is hard to see any other league justifying the needed outlay to land Costa. Put simply, he has done nowhere near enough since he first left Portugal to really assert himself as a genuine star. Therefore, it would be hard to see any team outside of England wishing to make the kind of fee and wages commitment to land him. Yet with his performances in England now failing to spark intrigue for two different teams, is he really going to be attract a third club in the country?
As such, Leeds might need to cut their losses on the talent and move on from him entirely via a loan move. A loan back to Portugal has been mooted, as has a move to German or Spanish football. For Costa, though, the problem is simple: if you don’t impress a coach like Bielsa, you might not impress any other top-level coach. Despite the investment, a player who has contributed just 2 goals and 2 assists might need to do more to land the kind of move hoped for.