5 Reasons Why Diego Costa Will Put Chelsea on the Next Level
Chelsea may be preparing to face Atletico Madrid in the Champions League next Tuesday, but it hasn't put an end to rumors their opponent's star striker could be on his way to Stamford Bridge come the summer.
Diego Costa has been a long-term transfer target for Jose Mourinho, and this week, Atleti manager Diego Simeone admitted he remains powerless to stop Costa from moving to London or anywhere else that he chooses.
"It will depend on him and what he thinks is best for his future," Simeone told radio station Onda Cero, per Sky Sports.
"I will support any decision he makes. It's natural that Chelsea are interested in him and that makes me happy, because my aim and that of my coaching staff is to see our players improve.
"We understand that Chelsea have huge financial power and if he wants to live off football for the rest of his life, I will have no problem in him going."
They're promising words for Chelsea fans and less so for followers of Atletico.
Costa has shown his worth these past couple of seasons in Madrid, and here are five reasons why he'll continue to do the same with Chelsea.
In 2013-14 alone, Costa has scored 34 times for Atletico Madrid.
It's a phenomenal return, with 26 goals coming in La Liga and a further seven in the Champions League.
Add a tally such as that to Chelsea's front line this season and we may be talking about Chelsea as being Premier League champions.
Instead, the Blues still face a fight to top Liverpool in the remaining four games of the campaign.
In contrast to Costa's record this season, all three of Chelsea's current strikers—Samuel Eto'o, Demba Ba and Fernando Torres—have scored 27 between them.
"But can he do it on a cold, rainy night in Stoke?" is the question a lot of pundits raise about players who are brought into Premier League clubs for big money.
Since Tony Pulis got the Potters promoted in 2008, they've become a barometer to test the resilience of players and teams; if they can get through a game at the Britannia Stadium unscathed, then their credentials are real.
Costa may assert himself in a different way than Didier Drogba, but the Brazilian-cum-Spaniard would provide a similar physical presence in attack that's been missing since Drogba left the Blues in 2012.
That's going to be vital, too. With a team containing diminutive talents such as Eden Hazard, a little more brawn will toughen Chelsea up in the right way.
In answer to the question, he would probably do it in the rain at Stoke.
Easing the Pressure
Pressure comes in many forms for footballers and their teammates.
Chelsea carry a weight of expectation that every season they will be lifting trophies, but every week, there is another type of pressure bestowed on this team and certain players.
The Blues' struggles to score goals at different times this season have been well documented. With Costa easing the burden in that area, it will give more freedom to Chelsea's attacking midfielders.
That responsibility to not only load the gun but pull the trigger has fallen to Hazard, Oscar, Andre Schurrle and others too much this term.
Teams have targeted them even more, and it's stifled their threat at times.
Those attacking midfielders will have the same problems next season, but with Costa on the scene, it will give them a sense of freedom as defenders know they will have to target his threat considerably.
As for that pressure of being the goalscorer, well, Costa's shown he likes to take that on himself.
During Mourinho's first spell in charge in charge at Chelsea, it was often said his team would win matches even before a ball was even kicked.
Such was the psychological advantage his team had over opponents; the mere thought of facing them would be enough to intimidate opponents.
When he departed in 2007, it was as if a weight had been lifted and suddenly teams were confident against them, even winning games at Stamford Bridge, where Chelsea had remained undefeated under Mourinho.
The same has happened with Manchester United this season; managers and their players are no longer afraid of traveling to Old Trafford without Sir Alex Ferguson in the opposite dugout.
Mourinho has helped restore an element of fear at Chelsea these days, but it's not quite at the same levels we witnessed in 2004 to 2007.
Without a truly world-class striker, clubs know they have a chance against Chelsea. There is talent all over the pitch, but the Blues remain somewhat limp in front of goal.
Costa's reputation will help bring that notion to an end. The psychological impact he will have on defenders will be significant.
It's difficult to criticize a team that sits second in the Premier League table and has reached a seventh Champions League semi-final in 11 years.
But if we were, it would be that Chelsea have set themselves up too much to stop opponents this season, winning games by grinding them down and relentlessly pursuing them.
With a player like Costa leading the line, Chelsea will have the confidence to play games on the front foot. Rather than worrying about the threat teams give them, it will be the opposite.
Mourinho's approach this season has been understandable. He's set his team up with the players he has at his disposal, knowing goals come at a premium at Stamford Bridge.
The risk of chasing games from the off has been exactly that, with no guarantee those entrusted to score the goals that win matches would have enough to not only set Chelsea on their way but claw them back into games when needed.
There have been exceptions, namely Chelsea's 6-0 thrashing of Arsenal, but on the whole, they haven't blown teams away in the manner Mourinho would like.
Tactically, Costa will allow Mourinho to do so much more.
All stats via ESPNFC.com.
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.