After a transfer saga in the weeks leading up to Frankfurt’s game against Stuttgart Sunday, the reception Filip Kostic would receive from the Deutsche Bank Park crowd was unclear.
But when he came off the bench just before the hour mark, the Serbian winger received both cheers and jeers. That mixed reaction quickly turned overwhelmingly positive when, 20 minutes later, he hit the back of the net with a pinpoint strike, pinging the ball off the post.
Though Frankfurt ultimately shared the spoils with Stuttgart after a late equalizer from Omar Marmoush, the events that unfolded Sunday may allow the club to finally put speculation surrounding Kostic’s future at the club to bed — at least for now.
Just two weeks earlier, Kostic seemed hell-bent on forcing through a move to Italian club Lazio, who had failed to meet Frankfurt’s valuation. Rumors circulated that the club had given the Serie A side a wrong email address to send their offer for the player. Eintracht quickly dismissed these claims but the relationship between Kostic and his club appeared to be broken.
After returning from international duty, the 28-year-old had held talks with sporting director Markus Krösche and coach Oliver Glasner. Prior to the break, Kostic had caused consternation after failing to turn up for the final training session ahead of Frankfurt’s match against Bielefeld.
Following the meeting, Kostic moved to clarify his position on Instagram, stating “I love Eintracht Frankfurt and am thankful for all I have here. Against Bielefeld I was physically not prepared. It was not a strike!”
Filip Kostic maintained in an Instagram post that he did not go on strike
Kostic also vowed to fight for the club and hoped for an apology for others spreading false narratives. But his actions seemed to suggest he did not believe another Bundesliga season awaited him.
Before Sunday’s game, Glasner said “the issue is done and dusted now as far as we’re concerned.”
“He’s part of Eintracht, and now all we’re waiting for is for Filip Kostic to be Filip Kostic,” the Austrian coach told a press conference on Friday. “I expect him to show what he has been showing for the club in the past years.”
Frankfurt coach Oliver Glasner (right) said the issue with Filip Kostic is now in the past
Kostic joined the Eagles having been relegated first with Stuttgart in 2016 and then again two years later with Hamburg. Since then, he racked up 26 goals and 48 assists in all competitions, turning from tricky winger to a dynamic left wing-back under Adi Hütter.
A firm fixture for Frankfurt, he finished second behind only Thomas Müller in the Bundesliga’s assist rankings last season. After teeing up just one goal before the turn of the year, Kostic went on a run of 13 assists in 21 outings. In fact, he has finished with double figures as a provider for three Bundesliga seasons in a row.
Filip Kostic on the bench during Eintracht Frankfurt’s game against Stuttgart
The versatile winger looked as though he would join the long list of players who have built up their reputation at Frankfurt and then moved on, a list that features Sebastien Haller, Ante Rebic, Andre Silva and Luka Jovic.
However, not all of his former teammates found success elsewhere. Last season, Jovic, Kostic’s Serbian national teammate, returned on loan to Frankfurt from Real Madrid where the grass was not greener. Haller also left West Ham for Ajax after failing to reach the form he showed in the Bundesliga.
Silva, meanwhile, has scored one goal — a penalty — for Leipzig in his first four games. Only Rebic has established himself as a firm fixture at AC Milan after a mixed first season.
Eintracht Frankfurt fans cheer after Filip Kostic’s goal against Stuttgart
Kostic’s reception in Deutsche Bank Park and his goal suggest indicate the transfer saga can be put to bed — at least for the time being.
Fans can be fickle when slighted but the best tonic for a strained relationship is success on the pitch.
If Kostic can dazzle as he has on matchday four, the Frankfurt faithful, whose side continues to search for their first league win of the campaign, will be glad to have him in their ranks.