Contrary to recent reports, Chelsea may launch a bid to boost their striking reserves this winter after it was suggested Diego Costa is drawing Jose Mourinho's gaze.
Costa is unlikely to be open to a move until the summer, due to Atletico's dual assault on La Liga and the Champions League, but that would not stop Chelsea striking a deal six months in advance.
An excerpt from Woods' report reads:
Costa has committed himself to staying with Atletico Madrid this season, but is aware of Chelsea’s interest.
Costa has a £32m buy-out clause in his contract and has been in stunning form this season. But the Blues appear to have an advantage with the player represented by Mourinho’s agent Jorge Mendes.
Mendes is regarded as one of the most powerful agents in world football and is responsible for organising transfers for the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Angel di Maria and Fabio Coentrao to Real Madrid.
A January swoop would be difficult to engineer, as is so often the case in the winter, but The Times' Oliver Kay reports that a summer deal could be on the cards (subscription required):
Earlier this week, Mourinho was reported by Sky Sports to have said he's eager to persevere with the attacking trio of Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto'o and Demba Ba for the remainder of the 2013-14 campaign.
However, the Portuguese's comments are to be taken with a pinch of salt considering it was only last summer that Mourinho admitted managers lie about their true intentions, noting:
We say no but we lie. Because until the last day when the market is open, we are all waiting for something to happen. Even when we say we are very happy with our squad, we lie, because we want all this to make it better.
Mourinho is as well-versed as any other manager when it comes to employing tactics in the pursuit of getting his way, in the transfer market as well as other areas of the game.
Torres, Eto'o and Ba have scored just eight goals between them this term, per WhoScored.com, with the Spaniard accounting for half of that tally.
It's in direct contrast to the type of figure Mourinho enjoyed during his first stint at the helm of the Stamford Bridge club, when Didier Drogba once reigned as one of the world's finest forwards.
Mourinho is once again striving to unearth that kind of striking presence in order to challenge the likes of Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United, all of whom have at least one attacking presence that they've been able to lean on for portions of this campaign.
Costa has recently switched citizenship in order to represent Spain at the World Cup, after Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari refused to hand the 25-year-old any sort of prominence in the Selecao squad.
OptaJose shows precisely how critical Costa has been to Diego Simeone's Atletico side this term, scoring the opening goal more often than any other La Liga player:
1 - Diego Costa has scored the 1st goal of the game a league-high (6); Alexis Sanchez & Neymar (4) have grabbed it most often for Barca. Can— OptaJose (@OptaJose) January 11, 2014
With the 2014 World Cup now just five months away, it makes it difficult to envisage Costa leaving the Vicente Calderon, putting his chances of making Vicente Del Bosque's squad at risk.
Nevertheless, Mourinho is eager to follow up interest in the Atleti attacker, whose £32 million buyout clause represents good value for a man confidently filling the void left by Radamel Falcao's departure to Monaco.