Chelsea Transfer News: Edinson Cavani a Better Fit for Blues Than Diego Costa

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistApril 24, 2014

Paris Saint Germain's Edinson Cavani of Argentina, center, and goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu, right, pose with the trophy after winning the French League Cup Final soccer match against Lyon at the Stade de France in Saint Denis, north of Paris, Saturday April 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon)
Jacques Brinon

Chelsea have been linked with a number of strikers around the globe ahead of the summer transfer window, and according to the latest reporters, owner Roman Abramovich and manager Jose Mourinho are in disagreement over which player to buy exactly, further proving how much fun it must be to be a billionaire oil tycoon.

El Pais' Diego Torres Romano (via The Express' Ben Jefferson) claims to know Abramovich is a big fan of Paris Saint-Germain's Edinson Cavani and that an influential agent in Jorge Mendes' camp has learned he wouldn't sign Atletico Madrid's Diego Costa:

Obviously that's a whole lot of "he said-she said" right there, but with the Premier League season nearly in the books and the summer transfer window almost upon us, fans can expect a steady stream of similar stories to surface in the coming weeks.

Apart from the obvious concerns regarding the availability of both players—Cavani is perfectly happy in Paris, according to L'Equipe (via The Express' Charles Perrin) and Costa is already being welcomed by Chelsea fans—it would be difficult to believe Abramovich would refuse to sign a player to force Mourinho's hand.

The story is odd in many ways, but it does pose an interesting question: Of the two players, who would be the better fit for the Blues' current striker woes?

From a financial and realistic point of view, it's clearly Costa, but if we're talking purely about football, it's Cavani. By a clear mile.

Costa is an excellent player, don't get me wrong, and he would instantly improve the Blues' attack should he arrive at Stamford Bridge this summer. Per, he has scored a remarkable 34 goals in 38 appearances, a most impressive number.

He's a tall, strong player with an excellent nose for goal and a very good technique for a man his size. He moves quite well and could be a very good fit in Chelsea's fast-paced attack built around creative midfielders like Eden Hazard, Willian and Oscar.

Three concerns have to be raised however. For all of his skills, Costa isn't particularly versatile. He doesn't play as physically as his size would lead you to believe and never takes full advantage of his height, and he'll never be mistaken for a wide player.

Then there's Atletico's system, seemingly built around an imposing attacking figure. Radamel Falcao is a phenomenal attacking talent, but his production has dropped considerably since joining AS Monaco. Injuries have no doubt played their part, but nine goals in 17 appearances in the weaker Ligue 1, per WhoScored, is still slightly worrisome.

How consistently great has Costa been outside of Atletico's system, for instance with the Spanish national team? It's inconclusive as the player has only featured once.

And that's concern number three. Raise your hand if you'd heard of Costa 12 months ago. If your hand is raised, you're either a big fan of La Liga, someone who spends too much time playing FIFA Ultimate Team or a liar.

The fact remains, 2013-14 marks the very first season Costa has scored more than 10 league goals in a season, per WhoScored.

Maybe Costa has always been a phenomenal talent who only received his chance to shine this year. Maybe he's just a late bloomer. Maybe he'll defy Atletico's system and shine in a different, more physical league. But that's a lot of maybes.

As for Cavani? He's just two years older, has a proven scoring record in both the Italian Serie A (26 league goals with Palermo in 2010-11, per WhoScored) and the French Ligue 1 and is proving his versatility to everyone watching by playing as a winger this season.

Chelsea fans might look at the tape of PSG's double-header against Chelsea and not come away impressed with the Uruguayan, but those were arguably the worst two matches Cavani played all season. Meanwhile, Costa did even less against the Chelsea defense on Tuesday as he was held in check for the full 90 minutes.

Cavani makes better use of his athleticism and rules the airspace around the box when he gets the chance. His ability to drop deep or swerve out on the wing should have Hazard and company licking their teeth.

Again, this isn't a knock on Costa, who is a perfectly good player in his own right. He's just not the complete package at the forward position like Cavani is.

There's one more factor favouring Cavani, and that's the emergence of Romelu Lukaku.

The Belgian youngster has been consistently excellent for Everton this season, and his development has come to the point where he will either be part of Chelsea's squad next season, or he'll be used to lure another forward to Stamford Bridge.

Lukaku could be an excellent depth player for the Blues in the next two to three seasons given a handful of starts in the Premier League, Champions League and the various cup competitions. He could also be used as a super-sub should the team be in need of goals.

Cavani and Lukaku could coexist on the field quite easily. The Uruguayan would start and move out wide to incorporate the young Belgian should the team be desperate for a more physical presence in the box. With Lukaku's athleticism, the two could even alternate roles during the match, confusing the defence.

Clint Hughes

Costa is not going to move out wide for Lukaku, and while the Belgian could technically play out on the left wing in support of the Brazilian-turned-Spaniard, Chelsea would effectively negate Lukaku's physical presence and ability in the air.

So, should Chelsea chase Cavani when the summer transfer window opens? Not quite. Fit is one thing, but Costa still makes a lot more sense on a financial level, and Cavani will most likely not be available to begin with.

But throw the finances out of the equation, and it's clear Cavani is both a safer bet to succeed, thanks to his history of success, and a better fit for the type of scheme Mourinho runs.

For now, Chelsea fans can rest easy—clearly, their owner knows his football.


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