The worst kept secret this season has been Jose Mourinho and Chelsea’s pursuit of Atletico Madrid’s star striker Diego Costa. Reports have linked the Brazilian-born forward to the London club since before the January transfer window.
The main reason Costa hasn’t moved sooner is because his loss would have been catastrophic to Atletico Madrid’s current season. The Rojiblancos are currently leading La Liga with five matches to play and have advanced to the semi-finals of the Champions League for the first time in more than 40 years.
Selling Costa in January, with no suitable replacement lined up, would have severely damaged the club’s chances of flourishing in both the league and Europe.
As the season winds down and the summer transfer window draws closer, reports out of Spain and England are hitting a fever pitch. The latest report from the Daily Telegraph states that Chelsea will secure Diego Costa from Atletico Madrid in a deal worth a staggering £80 million.
Matt Law of the Telegraph reports that Chelsea are prepared to meet Costa’s £32 million release clause and will offer the 25-year-old a weekly wage of £185,000. That salary will put the Spanish international striker on a par with the Chelsea’s highest earner, Eden Hazard. Over the course of a five-year contract, Costa is reportedly to earn just over £48 million, which would take the cost of the transfer to £80 million.
Why such a staggering amount of money for a player who has only had two solid seasons on the La Liga stage?
First (and most obvious), Jose Mourinho is desperate to sign a quality striker since his club has had little production from the position this season.
Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto’o and Demba Ba have combined to score sixteen Premier League goals this season. Chelsea has had to rely on the attacking qualities in its midfield since their strikers have gone missing; Eden Hazard, Oscar and Willian have combined to score 25 BPL goals.
Diego Costa currently has 26 goals in 31 La Liga matches; while also scoring seven goals in six Champions League appearances this season. So on statistics alone, Costa is exactly what Jose Mourinho has been looking for.
Another reason for Chelsea’s pursuit of the Atletico Madrid’s striker, Costa is the type of player who will inspire Chelsea teammates.
For those who haven’t seen the 25-year-old striker play, he has been the driving force on the pitch behind Atletico Madrid’s sensational season; much in the way Luis Suarez has been the catalyst for Liverpool’s success this year.
Costa’s style isn’t stylishly pleasing, but he is an engine on the football pitch. Much like Suarez, Costa is constantly putting pressure on the opposition’s back four with his bullish runs. And the Brazilian-born striker doesn’t just wait for service from his teammates. Costa can get on the ball, take on defenders and create space with the best forwards in the world.
There are times when Costa will literally run through defenders in order to score goals.
This past weekend in Atletico’s derby against Getafe, Costa found a new challenge…running through the goal post. What followed was the Atleti’s second goal of the match and a gaping wound to Costa’s shin. He was quickly stretchered off the pitch and the fear was the club would lose their leader for an extended period of time. And with a Champions League semi-final against Chelsea on the horizon, Atletico Madrid could ill-afford to lose their number one striker.
But Diego Simeone put any fears to bed in his post-match press conference: “He [Costa] is happy and well . One more cut does not do anything to this tiger.”
His manager’s praise sums up Costa and his value to the club. Not only is he a relentless worker in front of goal, Costa is a selfless teammate who will sacrifice his scoring to defend for his club’s cause.
Lastly, Jose Mourinho is desperate to sign Diego Costa because he knows the striker will be Premier League “box office”.
While managing Real Madrid, Mourinho stood witness to Diego Costa physically and verbally abusing his players. Of course everything Costa was doing was legal and within the rules, but there were times when the line of “professionalism” may have been crossed.
Costa plays with a non-stop commentary, while also using every part of his body to “gain an advantage” over his opponent. The English speaking defenders in the Premier League may not understand what Costa will be saying to them during the match; but once Costa’s head, elbow or fist finds them in a sensitive area, they’ll know that this is a player who will stop at nothing in order to drag his team to victory.
Diego Costa is the mirror image of his manager, Diego Simeone. Simeone was a workhorse in the midfield, while also being physically imposing, skillful and intelligent.
Unfortunately, Simeone is remembered by many in the UK as the man whose reaction to a petulant kick by David Beckham resulted in the England star famously being sent off during a World Cup game in 1998. But most fans understand that there was more to Simeone than that one-off event. He was a solid footballer who played for good European sides (Atletico Madrid, Lazio, Inter Milan, Sevilla) while also leading Argentina to international success.
Since Luis Suarez has cleaned up his act and won over some of his detractors, there is an opening for a “bad boy” in the Premier League. Diego Costa will fill that position and thrive in it.
He doesn’t just revel at being hated by his opponents, Costa gains strength from his back and forth exchanges with rival supporters. The combination of Premier League venues (filled with its loyal and passionate supporters) and the physical, verbal talents of Diego Costa will result in an explosion of emotions.
Premier League cameras will document each of his “interactions” and analysts will have a weekly source for material. It will be great theatre.
Diego Costa, Jose Mourinho and Chelsea Football Club will be Premier League box office.
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