In some Diego Costa transfer news, his long awaited return to Atletico Madrid has been confirmed. It’s believed he still needs to pass a medical and agree personal terms but both are expected to be formalities. The move will go through in January when the transfer window reopens and Atletico’s transfer embargo ends. It should bring to a close one of the strangest transfer episodes of recent memory. All parties should be pleased it’s finally resolved.
We take a closer look at this transfer and Diego Costa.
Nationality: 16 caps 6 goals
Position: centre forward
Transfer Fee: £57mil
2016/17 League Stats: 35 starts (0 sub appearances) 20 goals (7 assists)
Well I’m sure everybody is relieved by this news and no one more so than Antonio Conte. Forget transfer saga, Diego Costa’s situation had become an ordeal. I’m not sure we will ever know the exact details of what went on or who was to blame but lets try an unravel the mess…
The first sign of problems started in January this year. After a bust-up with the fitness coach Costa was left out of the team against Leicester. He returned to the team for the next match against Hull but it was clear something was brewing.
In the January transfer window there was also talk of a possible move to China and a lucrative contract offer. Given the amounts of money mentioned, it wouldn’t have been surprising if reports that Costa’s head was turned, were true. However Chelsea, deep in a title race, were uninterested sellers.
Due to the almost abrupt nature of the problems between Costa and Chelsea there is a certain logic to the theory that he was bitter about a collapsed move to China. It would provide at least some explanation for what happened.
Costa continued to feature regularly as Chelsea of course went on to become Champions but his form did drop off a bit in the second half of the season. He undoubtedly played a big role in the title triumph though with 20 league goals. I’m sure Conte wanted to keep him on side during the season because of his importance and fears it could derail their title charge.
Fast forward to the summer and events took a bizarre turn. Costa accused Conte of sending him a text telling him he could leave the club. I tend to believe him but I strongly suspect we aren’t getting the full story. Sending such a text unprompted and isolated with no context makes little sense. I’m not convinced that the text came as such a surprise to the Spain international as he has made out.
I don’t think Conte has handled the situation too well either. If he did send the text, that’s a major error of judgment. You can tell by the way Costa plays and from his disciplinary record that he’s a volatile character. Such a player needs to be carefully managed.
It’s given Costa the perfect excuse not to return to London. He’s pretty much spent pre-season and the start of the regular season on strike, back in his native Brazil.
Some of his accusations about Chelsea treating him like a ‘criminal’ is slightly ridiculous too. I must confess I don’t really understand what he’s referring to. If a buyer was available earlier I’m sure Chelsea would have sold him as soon as possible to draw a close to the drama.
Atletico were happy to meet the valuation, so the asking price couldn’t have been as unreasonable as Costa suggested. It only ever felt like a matter of time before Atletico finalised a deal though as soon as it became clear Costa was available and they were his preferred destination. So a lot of what has gone on has felt completely unnecessary.
Back to the actual football… Costa on his day is one of the best strikers in the Premiership. Any team would miss him… if he’s playing. There’s just been too much off the field drama that very few footballers in the world are worth putting up with. So for non-footballing reasons Chelsea will be relieved he’s off… officially.
Morata has looked a good signing and while he may not be quite to Costa’s standard yet, he still has a lot of room to improve. He lacks Costa physical presence and bullying of defenders so Chelsea have needed to adapt and have lost a bit of their ‘nasty’ edge this season. Morata is clearly very gifted however, as you would expect from a Real Madrid youth product. Technically he’s very good. He has every chance to join the top strikers in the world one day.
Batshuayi isn’t a bad option either. We’ve not seen the best of him since he’s been in England and he’s been very unfortunate not to start more games. He has already matched last season by starting once in the league so far, so it should be safe to say he will get more minutes this season. With Morata settling into new surroundings that may give him more opportunities too.
Chelsea are going to miss Costa this season and look a bit weaker in the striker department but long-term this should help the other strikers at the club and their development, by spending more time on the pitch.
In terms of Costa at Atletico, he will bring experience and an extra dimension to their attack. He will also help with the transition of the inevitable lost of Griezmann, which I expect next summer. Angel Correa and Luciano Vietto look like they will be given more opportunities this season and while both are massive talents, both are still relatively inexperienced. Their strengths are also the technical side of the game, as you would expect of diminutive Argentines. Costa and his physical approach should compliment both perfectly in the seasons ahead.
If Simeone can keep Costa’s head right, which he has managed before, to devastating effect as Costa helped lead Atletico to their last La Liga title. They will have re-signed one of the best centre forwards in the world.
I’m glad the drama’s over. I’m sure everyone else is too, you included. Chelsea can put this sorry episode behind them and in the process have done pretty good business selling a 28 year old for £57mil. Atletico get their man and a top quality striker to replace Griezmann. Whilst Costa gets his dream return to Spain. Everybody’s happy… at last.
So, what do you make of the whole Diego Costa saga? Chelsea right to sell? Let me know below…