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Player Profile: Manuel da Costa  

Manuel da CostaFull name: Manuel Marouan da Costa Trindade
Position: Defender
Date of Birth: 6 May 1986
Birthplace: Saint-Max, France

Born in France to a Portuguese father and a Moroccan mother, Manuel da Costa has often been tipped as part of the future of the Portuguese international setup.

His reading of the game, positional play, strong physical attributes and ability to play across the backline have seen the young defender’s name feature regularly in the scouting reports of some of Europe’s top clubs.

Manuel da Costa began his career with AS Nancy, a relatively small club from the region of Lorraine in north-eastern France, making his debut at the age of 19 during the 2005/06 season. Perhaps the biggest memory of his time at the Stade Marcel Picot was his crucial goal in the semi-finals as Nancy won the French League Cup in May 2006.

With the football associations of both France and Portugal taking an interest in the young defender following his impressive form in Ligue 1, da Costa surprised some by accepting a call to play for the Portuguese under-20 side at the Toulon tournament in May 2006, turning down the country in which he was born and raised.

Plentiful offers

As word of his talent spread across Europe, da Costa soon found himself the subject of several offers. Ultimately, he opted for Dutch champions PSV, joining in a €1m deal, with the club offering both European football and a well recognised reputation for developing young talent.

He was eased into life in Eindhoven, but after scoring on his debut – a 3-1 win over title rivals AZ in October 2006 – da Costa quickly established himself as a regular member of the first team at the Phillips Stadium, particularly in the team’s run to the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

He ended his first season in the Eredivisie with a Dutch league title, after which da Costa was one of few players to impress for his country in Portugal’s disappointing 2007 European Championship campaign in Holland.

Chelsea link

Throughout the 2006/07 campaign, speculation had began to mount that da Costa’s ability had caught the eye of then Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, while some of Italy’s top clubs have also shown an interest, but the defender agreed to stay in Dutch football for another season.

It would prove only a matter of time, however, before da Costa chose to make the next step in his club career. At the age of 22, the defender moved to Italy's Fiorentina in the summer of 2008, but the move to Serie A was an unhappy one for da Costa. Having seen little playing time during the first half of the season, he was loaned to Sampdoria for the remainder of the campaign, but again saw little action on the pitch.

As a result, the youngster sought another move, and joined English Premier League club West Ham United in August 2009, where he will hope to gain more regular first-team football in order to fulfil the huge potential many believe could lead him to become a regular for the Seleccao das Quinas.

by Sean Gillen

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