The 33-year-old former Chelsea striker has arrived back in England after agreeing a short-term deal with Wolves that runs until the end of the season, having been without a club since leaving Brazilian side Atletico Mineiro in January.
Brought in as cover for the injured Sasa Kalajdzic, Costa's timely arrival at Molineux was announced using a fitting video clip of the veteran striker stepping out of the shadows wielding a pack of snarling wolves on lengths of chain. Although he didn't seem overly comfortable with it, telling the club website: "I was scared to death. Holding that chain I kept thinking, 'What if this wolf thinks about jumping on top of me?' and then the three of them did. ... Those were wolves, not dogs. It was a cool experience but not a very comfortable one. I have five dogs, but they're not wolves!"
It's official. ✍️ pic.twitter.com/FXcgReSlsr— Wolves (@Wolves) September 12, 2022
Costa scored a thoroughly respectable 52 goals in 89 games during his first stint in the Premier League from 2014 to 2017, but also found infamy due to his habitual dabbling in football's dark arts. He returns with a reputation as a fleetingly mercurial, unrelentingly tenacious and often uncontrollably volatile figure. Yes, he may be older now, but that is unlikely to have dulled his edge at all.
The Spain international was shown an impressive total of 31 yellow cards during his three seasons at Chelsea, though let the record show that he received only one red card (against Everton in the quarterfinals of the 2015-16 FA Cup).
Still there were plenty of nudges, scrapes, scratches and scowls to go alongside all the deliberate provocation and gamesmanship -- but where does Wolves' new striker rank alongside the game's other modern-day Machiavellian masters?
Ramos boasts one of worst disciplinary records in modern football, having been sent off a total of 27 times during his professional career. While ostensibly skilful and composed, the 36-year-old centre-back is willing to plumb the depths of bad sportsmanship if it means gaining a slight advantage over his opponents. Unfortunately for him, there is a line, and Ramos often crosses it in fairly reckless fashion.
"If you watch it back and you are not with Real Madrid then you think it is ruthless and brutal. You don't think, "Wow! Good challenge". It was ruthless."— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) July 28, 2018
Jürgen Klopp has his say about the Sergio Ramos challenge on Mo Salah in the Champions League final... pic.twitter.com/YJCWDDgR1I
Most heinous act: Few could look past Ramos' conduct during the 2018 Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool in which the Real captain quite literally pounced on Mohamed Salah and brought the Egyptian winger's night to a premature (and tear-strewn) end with just 30 minutes played in Kiev.
Still going strong at the age of 39, Pepe forged a reputation during his time at Real Madrid as one of the most aggressive defenders in the world. While hard tackles were routine, the Portugal international also regularly deployed sneaky stamps, hair-pulls, trash talk and other equally nefarious manoeuvres in order to gain the upper hand.
Hoy hace 13 años del Real Madrid-Getafe en el que a Pepe se le fue bastante la pinza y pateó a Casquero en el suelo. Le cayeron 10 partidos de sanción al portugués. pic.twitter.com/uIiMRQxEV5— Manu Heredia (@ManuHeredia21) April 21, 2022
Most heinous act: Pepe's disciplinary rap sheet extends to several volumes, but his worst foul came during his hot-headed Madrid pomp in 2009, when the centre-back knocked Javier Casquero to the ground, lost his rag, snapped and immediately began kicking lumps out of the Getafe attacker as he lay prone and defenceless.
Giorgio Chiellini (LAFC)
One of the greatest Italian centre-backs of all time, Chiellini follows in a grand lineage of stout, stubborn defenders feared by attackers the world over. Like several of his predecessors, the Juventus legend was also more than happy to switch to a more physical, antagonistic approach if it meant keeping his opponents at bay.
Most heinous act: There have been some incredibly stiff lunges and industrial tackles over the years, but Chiellini's most wanton act of destruction arguably came in the Euro 2020 final. When suddenly faced with a one-on-one sprint against spry England winger Bukayo Saka in the 96th minute, the veteran defender instead chose to haul the youngster to the floor using his shirt collar, almost relieving him of his head in the process.
Every great side needs a gritty lynchpin, and Busquets fulfilled that role for both Barca and Spain as they set about conquering domestic, European and world football for several years throughout the 2010s. As one of the most decorated footballers around, it's difficult to admonish or undermine the defensive midfielder's contribution, providing the necessary grit in a silky smooth, perfectly balanced, midfield unit alongside Andres Iniesta and Xavi.
It'll always be a Sergio Busquets, ever since 2010 pic.twitter.com/t1nrWITrVt— Shahan Ahmed (@shahanLA) March 9, 2021
Most heinous act: The single moment that is likely to encapsulate Busquets' unique approach to the dark arts is not a dreadful foul or a nasty off-the-ball indiscretion, but a look -- one single, sly peek through the fingers while lying on the ground during a Champions League game against Inter Milan in 2010. The Barca midfielder was clutching his face and writhing in agony after being "elbowed" by an Inter player. However, many onlookers immediately suspected that he might be exaggerating his anguish and sure enough all doubt was duly removed when the cameras spotted Busquets had momentarily stopped writhing in order to craftily assess the situation through his hands from his vantage point on the floor.
And lo, the Busquets "Peekaboo" meme was born.
Luis Suarez (Nacional)
Uruguayans have a name for their famed national fighting spirit with "Garra Charrua" literally translating into English as "the Claw of the Charrua" -- the "Charrua" being the indigenous tribe who called the South American country its home in ancient times. Few players have embodied that unflinching tenacity and grit more than Suarez, who simultaneously functions as one of the most technically gifted footballers the country has ever produced as well as one of the unapologetically obnoxious.
Five years ago today, Luis Suárez bit Giorgio Chiellini at the 2014 World Cup.— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) June 24, 2019
He received a four-month ban from football. pic.twitter.com/eB3xAG3xYX
Most heinous act: There can be little doubt as to what Suarez's most fiendish transgression was, and by pure coincidence it also happens to involve another rogue previously mentioned in this gallery. The year was 2010. The place was the Arena das Dunas in Natal, Brazil. The occasion: the World Cup group game between Uruguay and Italy. The crime? Attempted cannibalism.
While Toni Kroos and Luka Modric did all the silky stuff, Casemiro became an intrinsic part of Real Madrid's celebrated midfield trio by virtue of a simple willingness to do all the mucky jobs during matches and thus freeing up his teammates to go about their more elaborate business. Now holding fort for Manchester United, the Brazilian has continued in a similar vein while flair players such as Bruno Fernandes and Christian Eriksen focus their efforts on pulling the strings further upfield.
Can't wait to see Fred and Casemiro link up in a United Shirt.pic.twitter.com/x32VI901mb— David Scott (@arghkid) August 18, 2022
Most heinous act: Casemiro left Madrid with a cavalcade of crunching tackles and tactical fouls in his wake, but the worst of all must surely be the grievous point-blank assault he committed on Fred, kicking the ball into his own teammate while on international duty with Brazil. Will be interesting to see if the same thing happens at Man United now.