Chelsea signed Diego Costa from Atletico Madrid for a fee in the region of £32 million to finally rectify their mistakes from last season when they suffered due to the lack of quality upfront which resulted in a trophy-less season.
Chelsea have had a history of signing expensive flops for the striking department. Andriy Shevchenko signed for Chelsea in May 2006 for a club record £30m and scored 9 league goals in 48 appearances, whilst Fernando Torres signed in January 2011 for £50m and has since scored a measly 20 goals in 110 appearances.
Their most expensive signing of the summer though, is on the back of a phenomenal season in which he played a crucial role for Atletico who won the La Liga title for the first time since 1996 and were two minutes away from winning the Champions League in Lisbon.
Having been sent on out on loan to develop as a player five times in his career, Costa was sold to Real Valladolid in 2009 but was bought back the following season before finally settling in the Atletico Madrid squad during the 2012/13 season.
Chelsea decided no to retain Romelu Lukaku who was sold to Everton for £28 m and with the return of Didier Drogba, Costa is set to operate as the lone forward with the Ivorian being his back-up.
Costa has already given us a glimpse of what in store for next season as he scored a goal on his debut against lowly Ljubljana in his first friendly match before getting involved in all three goals in Chelsea’s 3-1 win over Vitesse Arhem, with the Spaniard getting two assists and also winning the free-kick from which Fabregas scored.
Style of play
Costa brings with him a very physical and direct style that Chelsea sorely lacked last season. He likes to take on defenders with his unconventional running, particularly while driving infield, and with his clever movement and positioning works the channels between fullbacks and centre-backs brilliantly.
He is strong, quick, powerful and tenacious and is the perfect ‘Jose Mourinho centre forward’ who loves harrying defenders into committing mistakes with his relentless hard work off the ball:
“When I saw him training I wanted to die,” Diego Simeone has been quoted as saying for the Spaniard. “Diego Costa transmits a strength which has a contagious effect on the rest of the group.”
With his excellent close control of the ball, unorthodox but effective dribbling and lethal finishing, Chelsea have a striker who could potentially propel them to domestic and continental glory.
He thrives on counter-attacking football and will take to Mourinho’s well drilled, defensively solid and well-organised side like a duck to water.
He has a history of being involved in altercations with opposition defenders though because of his habit of roughing up his markers and therefore being on the receiving end of the treatment as well. He will be adored by his own supporters who will fall instantly in love with his determination and will to succeed, but he will also have to endure constant jeering from opposition fans throughout the 90 minutes. Like Drogba, apart from competing physically with defenders, he looks to rile them up and plays with their concentration thereby inducing mistakes which he then pounces on.
His street fighter attitude will bode well for Mourinho’s team as he has unique ability to mix brains with brawn. He is a determined individual who will put his body on the line if that is what is required to win. Apart from being flat track bully, he is also a big game player and has all the makings of becoming one of Chelsea’s best strikers.
Torres, Demba Ba and Samuel Eto scored a combined total of just 19 Premier League goals in 68 Premier League appearances between them last season. Costa meanwhile scored a remarkable 27 goals in 35 La Liga appearances finishing behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in the Spanish charts and had been going neck and neck with the pair for the majority of the season before he suffered a hamstring injury. He also banged in eight goals in nine Champions League matches.
Taking a look at Chelsea’s attacking stats from last season from whoscored.com forewarns the rest of the league of how Costa is going to thrive at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea had a league highest 18.2 shots per game and had the 3rd highest shots on target with six per game. Costa is a cold blooded poacher in the penalty. He scored all but one of his 27 La Liga goals last season from inside the 18-yard box and will benefit hugely from the creativity of Eden Hazard, Willian and Oscar and new signing Cesc Fabregas.
Chelsea were third in the dribbles per game section with 11.4 and that will suit Costa’s game as he looks to constantly take on players in the final third.
They were also the second in the number of times fouled per game with 11.8, owing to their tricky players with nifty footwork. Costa was the most fouled player in the La Liga and will be a great source of winning penalties and free kicks on the edge of the box.
Chelsea were the 3rd highest set piece scorers with 15 and with Costa lining up to be on the end of corners and free kicks, it will be a stuff of nightmare for the opposition.
We take a look at Costa’s stats from La Liga during the 2013/14 season compared to those of the top scoring strikers of the Premier League.
Costa, contrary to the notion is not a one-season wonder. In the season before last at the Vicente Calderon, he scored 10 goals in 24 appearances in La Liga from just from 38 shots having a scary conversion rate of 26.3% and a shooting accuracy of 63.2%. He scored a total of 20 goals in all competitions playing second fiddle to Radamel Falcao and collected eight assists along the way.
During last season though, he was one of the best centre forwards in the world as he became the focal point of all Atleti attacks. With a 57% shot accuracy, he scored 27 goals with a 25% conversion rate and got only 3 assists as his role of an out and out goalscorer got more pronounced.
No player missed more clear-cut chances in Europe’s top 5 leagues last season than Costa, who missed 22. This is an astonishing fact because it shows the number of goalscoring opportunities he had from which would have added to his tally.
18 yellow cards in the last two seasons are a detriment to the world class player Costa is turning out to be. He needs to be more disciplined and get stop getting involved in needless disputes as defenders will do their best to put him off.
He has a lot in his locker than being goal poacher but there is much to be desired in his ability to play the killer through balls. He instead prefers to play the much simple though by no means ineffective passes, but Mourinho won’t be worrying too much about his four assists in all competitions as the onus on him is to score the goals, and not necessarily provide them.
For a man of his build, he only won a little over one aerial duel per game on average and his ability to hold up the play for his teammates leaves much to be desired. It looks set to change at Chelsea though as he will be surrounded teammates of a better individual quality, with all due respect, than those in Spain.
Costa is a brilliant signing for Chelsea and should fit perfectly into Mourinho’s style of play. He has very similar traits to those of the Ivorian, and under his tutelage for the next season, will become an even scarier proposition.
Mourinho on the striker:
“They say he is good in the air but, after three or four days of training, they change their opinion. They say he is much better than that. They thought about his physical presence, but he is much more than that. Physically, mentally, Diego is an end-product.”
Tussling, battling, arguing, and scoring, Costa looks all set to become one of the best strikers in the English Premier League for seasons to come.