Diego Costa Swap for Thibaut Courtois Shows New Chelsea Approach to Transfers

Garry Hayes@@garryhayesFeatured ColumnistJanuary 28, 2014


Pragmatic may not always be the first adjective that springs to mind when best describing Chelsea's transfer dealings, although this January could have changed that.

Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah have both arrived at Stamford Bridge, while Juan Mata, Michael Essien and Kevin De Bruyne have departed.

Chelsea's net profit stands at around £21 million after those deals—not to mention the money they will be saving on wages—yet their squad looks all the stronger for their business dealings since the turn of the year.

Matic is the jewel in the crown, his signing appearing a significant step forward in Mourinho crafting his squad more in his vision than that of the managers who preceded him.

MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 17:  Thibaut Courtois of Club Atletico de Madrid celebrates after Atletico beat Real Madrid 2-1 in the Copa del Rey Final at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on May 17, 2013 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Such was his reputation during his two-and-a-half seasons in West London, the sale of Mata was always going to be painful for fans, although with his place in the squad being taken by Salah—a player more at home on the wing than the overcrowded No. 10 position—it's a move that brings more balance.

If Chelsea can pull off the rumored swap deal involving Atletico Madrid's Diego Costa and on-loan goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, it will be another move that significantly strengthens the club's options.

Courtois is in his third season as an Atletico player, joining on loan from Chelsea in 2011. Since that time his reputation has only grown on the back of his excellent form.

There's only so long he can remain a loanee, though, and the time will come when he either departs Chelsea permanently or replaces Petr Cech, which doesn't look like happening any time soon.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 26:  Jose Mourinho manager of Chelsea looks on during the FA Cup Fourth Round between Chelsea and Stoke City at Stamford Bridge on January 26, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Ian Walton/Getty Images

Now the Daily Mail has reported Chelsea have agreed a deal with Atletico that will see Courtois remain in Madrid this summer, with Diego Costa moving the other way.

On the surface, it's a tough decision Mourinho has to make. He will be losing one of Europe's most promising talents in goal, yet in the process, he's bringing in a proven goalscorer.

It's the latter that will impact Chelsea more in the short and long term.

Cech has shown this year that he will remain more than capable of keeping goal for the Blues for sometime yet. Chelsea's strikers on the other hand have shown the Blues need something extra to bolster their attacking threat.

It's not clear whether a swap deal with Diego Costa will involve cash plus Courtois, but Atletico's Brazilian-cum-Spaniard is worth the £37.1 million fee received for Mata alone. His 19 goals in La Liga—second only to Cristiano Ronaldo—is all the evidence we need on that front.

If the deal goes through, Mourinho will be losing a player who has never played for Chelsea, yet signing a world-class striker in the process. Like the price he received for Mata, a player who rarely featured, that's pragmatism.

We haven't been used to this in the Roman Abramovich era at Chelsea, but it seems the tides are turning in West London.

Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here @garryhayes