Danny da Costa had to wait a long time for this moment. For someone who quickly became a regular during his first engagement at FSV Mainz 05 and retained this status until the end of the season, even for a very long time. He was doing well after Rheinhessen’s most recent Bundesliga game: In the 1-1 draw against Hertha BSC, coach Bo Svensson sent the right-back onto the field in the 59th minute – for the first time this season.
“For me, coming on was a nice feeling,” says da Costa. “That’s why I’m a professional, to be on the pitch.” When the now 29-year-old returned to Bruchweg from Eintracht Frankfurt after a season in the summer, this time not for a six-month loan but with a three-year contract, the perspective was clear another.
Da Costa was set to compete with Silvan Widmer for a place on the right wing – not an easy task in itself after the Swiss international achieved top dog status last season, scoring four goals and assisting five more. Meanwhile, after a weak first week for the entire team, da Costa had ended up in the second and third rows in Frankfurt, from which he only sporadically stepped forward.
Finally pain free
Back in Mainz, that should change. In da Costa, the team “automatically has another leading player,” emphasized coach Svensson at the beginning of the preparation. In fact, however, it took around two and a half months before the 05ers had a player in the returnee. An inflammation of the pubic bone, which he contracted at Eintracht but had not healed properly, put him out of action throughout the preparation.
It wasn’t until the sixth matchday that Costa was back on the bench, and on the seventh he made his debut of the season. “I’ve been working towards being free of pain for a long time,” he said after the game against Hertha. “And I’m glad that I was able to help the team turn the game around somehow and get at least one more point.”
Of course, da Costa hopes that after the international break, as many missions as possible will be added as soon as possible. However, he is well aware of the fact that the duel for the right position in the five-man chain has now turned into a three-way battle. He no longer only has to fight with Widmer for the position within the team, but also, somewhat surprisingly, with Edimilson Fernandes, the second Swiss in the squad.
Lent to Bielefeld and Bern last season, it was actually considered a candidate for sale – but no buyer was found. In view of the appealing performances in the friendlies, 05 coach Svensson did not see the whereabouts of Fernandes, who came from Florence in 2019 and was chronically below his potential before the loan, as ballast. And when Widmer dropped out at VfL Bochum on the first day of the game, his compatriot was allowed to step in and set up the lead.
What does this mean for Danny da Costa? “I knew that when I come back, everyone won’t be yelling ‘hooray’ and I’m going to play every game,” he says. He also accepts the competition with one man more than he has accepted in the past few weeks. “Edi is doing well,” he attests to Fernandes. “We all get along very well with each other. It’s not like we’re constantly beating our socks off in training.”
Even if he was one of the most conspicuous players in the second half against Hertha, along with Anthony Caci, who also came on as a substitute and worked the left lane, he did not want to make any claims for further appearances on the verbal tour. “I’m the last one who runs to the coach about something like that,” assures da Costa. “I try to offer myself on the pitch and in training and make it as difficult as possible for the coach. That’s what the others are trying to do, that’s our job. And then I hope that when Bo makes the line-up, he’ll at least have to rack his brains a bit.”