Twelve months after the end of a hugely successful six-month long loan spell at the club Danny da Costa is back at Mainz 05, and he almost feels as if he has never been away. Together with his family, da Costa made the decision to return to the club upon expiry of his Eintracht Frankfurt contract, signing a deal with Bo Svensson’s side until 2025. “This is our home now. We want to build our future here away from the pitch as well,” said the 28-year-old on Thursday afternoon. On the pitch, he wants to pick up right where he left off during his first spell at the club.
Has the full back noticed any changes in his first few days back at Mainz? “The weather is better than it was back then,” he joked, highlighting that he isn’t struggling to re-acclimatise. In the winter of 2021, the Bayer 04 Leverkusen youth product arrived on loan until the end of the season and hit the ground running, playing a big part in Mainz’s rescue mission during the second half of the season. From the first day on, he made the right flank his own and made 16 appearances as the club secured their place in the Bundesliga.
A mixed year in Frankfurt
“I felt very comfortable back then, even though I was only here four months. I could have imagined staying here even then. Frankfurt, my contracted club, wanted to keep me, so I made the best out of the situation,” said da Costa. He only managed to make 14 competitive appearances last season – two of those coming in the club’s run to lifting the Europa League title. “I learned from the year and ended it on a real high with the boys, but I also had some experiences that I’d never had before. I don’t really worry much about last season,” said da Costa.
… I had some experiences that I’d never had before
Mainz as private & footballing home
From now on, his focus is solely on the future, his new job at the club – the fourth in his career after his breakthrough club Leverkusen, FC Ingolstadt and Frankfurt. Da Costa hopes there won’t be any more. “I’ve signed for three years and I’m someone who doesn’t like to leave quickly. Simnply put, I think it’s really important that you identify completely with the club. We’re moving in here. This is our home now, we want to build a future here,” said da Costa, who became a father for the first time during his first spell at the club in April 2021.
It’s really important that you identify completely with the club.
Da Costa doesn’t just face new challenges at home. The defender will also have to battle it out on the pitch against Silvan Widmer, who replaced him after his loan spell ended. It’s something that he has not yet paid much attention to, though. “I’ve been back here for two days and haven’t given it that much thought. Silvan has had a great year, of course. I think you know what you have in him just as much as you know what you have in me. But the fact of the matter is that it’s more important that we get the best possible out of ourselves as a team.” The full back also sees himself as a versatile option across a back five. He did admit, however, that he’s probably not at Bundesliga standard if he’s playing “in goal or as a centre forward,” he smiled.
Passion for the Mainz way
The aim for the season is to “achieve the optimum.” And for da Costa personally, to ideally continue with the team exactly where he left off in the summer of 2021. “What I liked from the very first day back then was the way we were courageous and always wanted to play forward, regardless of the situation we found ourselves in. That’s a style of play that I think suits me: to go into every game and showing that we are Mainz 05 and embody a certain way of playing football. It’s something that’s evolved over the past year, but the core has stayed the same.”
The defender took an example from the first training session of the season, where things are usually a little bit more relaxed than much of the pre-season. “To begin with, nothing needed to be at the highest tempo. But that lasted about five seconds, then everyone was really getting at it. It’s just in everyone’s DNA here, even the new players take it in very very quickly.”
It that lasted about five seconds, then everyone was really getting at it
When asked whether he would see himself taking a leading role within the team, da Costa described his usual character in a standard team situation. “I’m not someone who stands in the dressing room and makes the speeches getting everyone fired up, but I definitely have my opinions and always like to communicate. I like to take time to take younger players to one side because I’ve experienced the path they’re now on myself. I appreciate a close exchange, which is something that I think is important for every team, because the more you learn about your teammates, the better you can assess certain things and situations both on and off the pitch.”