6 Issues Around the Signing of Diego Costa at Chelsea
Costa has been the primary target for Jose Mourinho since his failure to sign Wayne Rooney last summer. He scored 35 goals in 43 appearances for Atletico last season, which is six more than Chelsea’s three strikers managed. What's more, one of those goals ended the London club's Champions League run.
In that time, Atletico have been playing a counter-attacking game, similar to Chelsea under Mourinho. Costa fits the system well. He has the strength to hold up the ball, the skill to dribble through defences, and he is statistically much better than any of Chelsea’s current strikers.
However, as important as Costa was to Atletico breaking the Real Madrid/Barcelona duopoly at the top of La Liga, he does bring significant concerns with him to Stamford Bridge.
He Didn't Want to Leave Atletico Madrid
According to Spanish newspaper Marca, per Nick Lustig at the Daily Star, Costa was hoping to stay at Atletico Madrid but has had a move to Chelsea “forced” upon him.
Relentlessly pursuing a player who doesn’t want to play for the club is a monumentally stupid move on the part of the Blues, one that could very well backfire spectacularly.
He Doesn't Present a Plan B
Chelsea’s main problem with their goalscorers last season was a lack of a Plan B.
When not on the counter, the attacking players would reach the edge of the 18-yard box and find themselves crowded out, either conceding possession or being forced to pass the ball back toward their own goal.
Costa provides very similar qualities to the current crop of attacking midfielders at Chelsea.
Considering the abject failure of Mourinho’s experiments in playing without a proper striker, it is concerning that the Blues have been so willing to spend such a large sum of money for a player who is unlikely to shake things up in the way that is obviously needed.
He Has Had Lots of Niggling Injuries
The fact that Costa forced himself into the starting XI for the Champions League final despite clearly not being fit is worrying.
The striker lasted just 10 minutes because of his hamstring injury, depriving his coach of a substitute who could have brought in fresh legs when they suffered the heartbreak of going into extra time.
While the desire to play is admirable, Chelsea have had enough problems with strikers who have niggling injury troubles in the form of Fernando Torres and Andriy Shevchenko.
While it could turn out to be third time lucky, spending a huge sum on a striker who is willing to risk the biggest game his club has played all season in pursuit of personal glory is a concern.
His Disciplinary Record
Costa has earned himself a reputation as a hothead, and he is sometimes accused of being overly aggressive.
This was on display in the Champions League semi-final between Atletico and Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. John Terry and Gary Cahill did a good job of keeping the striker quiet, and until Samuel Eto'o conceded a penalty, his involvement in the game was limited to provoking the crowd.
He missed four games through suspension in each of the last two seasons, and although he has recognised the need to mature, there is still plenty of room for improvement.
He Has Only Had One Truly Outstanding Season
Much of the hype surrounding Costa rests on the 35 goals he scored for Atletico in 2013-14 and the 20 strikes he netted in 2012-13 in the shadow of Radamel Falcao.
In his debut season at the Vicente Calderon, he produced just six goals in 28 La Liga appearances.
While it would be foolish to write him off on this basis, it seems that he is unlikely to produce the instant results that Chelsea so desperately need from their strikers.
Signing Him Has Sidelined Romelu Lukaku
Along with the other issues involved in the deal for Costa, most concerning should be the impact on Romelu Lukaku.
The big Belgian has grown increasingly frustrated with the lack of opportunities presented to him at Chelsea and has made it clear that he expects to leave this summer, per Nick Lustig at the Daily Star.
Lukaku has proven himself in the Premier League with both West Bromwich Albion and Everton.
While he has gone through goal droughts in each of his last two loan spells, he is 21 years old and has plenty of time to continue his development.
Letting Lukaku leave could be the biggest mistake of this whole saga.