Jose Mourinho and Chelsea have never been the most popular of combinations and opposition supporters expecting the Blues to become a little more likeable during the 2014/15 campaign will be disappointed. That's after the club confirmed an agreement has been reached for the signing of Diego Costa from Atletico Madrid.
And their popularity isn’t set to take a hit due to Costa’s abrasive, aggressive playing style but because the signing of the 25-year-old forward will be the key factor in the Premier League title returning to Stamford Bridge next season.
Chelsea confirmed that they’d met the player's buy-out clause—thought to be around £32 million, per Adam Crafton of the Daily Mail—in a statement on their official website:
Costa will join up with Mourinho at Stamford Bridge after establishing himself as one of the most coveted forwards in European football. The Brazilian-born Spanish international scored a stunning 27 league goals last season, per WhoScored.com, firing Atletico to an unexpected title triumph, as well as to within touching distance of their maiden European Cup success.
Injuries punctured Costa’s finish to the campaign, and a poor World Cup—where Costa clearly wasn’t completely fit—seem to have dampened the hype surrounding the player considerably. So much so that the question was posed by the Daily Mail during the tournament as to whether or not the forward would flop in the Premier League:
And while the saying “you’re only as good as your last game” does hold some credence, Costa’s statistics for the entirety of the campaign represent much more tangible evidence to judge him on. Granted, it was a breakthrough season for Costa and an unprecedentedly prolific one for him, but he seemed to relish being the main man for Atletico Madrid and his game reflected that.
Nonetheless, Football statistician Duncan Alexander seems to suggest that Costa could be a one-season wonder:
Reminder Diego Costa had never scored more than 10 goals in a La Liga season before 2013-14.— Duncan Alexander (@oilysailor) July 1, 2014
But he'll be the main man at Chelsea, just like he was in Spain; the centre-forward that will spearhead their charge toward major honours. Last month, Costa spoke of his excitement at playing in the Premier League with Chelsea, per Duncan Castles of Goal.com:
I've wanted to play in the Premier League for a while. Chelsea are one of the greatest clubs of the world so there are many factors that make you take a decision like this.
Every year is a different story, nothing is easy in life. I will have to work a lot to fit in with the style of the Premier League.
Stylistically, he is a something of a throwback and a target man that Mourinho will be looking to mould in a manner comparable to Didier Drogba and Diego Milito; burly forwards who have excelled under the Portuguese’s tutelage. Mourinho spoke of his admiration for Costa last month, telling Marca (h/t Emma Webb of Sky Sports) that “Costa is a player I want to have in my team.”
Here’s a few reasons why Mourinho rates him so highly:
Costa will give this Chelsea team a unshakeable focal point in their attack, something they were without for long spells of the last campaign. And that’s why the capture of the Atletico man will be critical in bringing the title back to Stamford Bridge.
Of course, the acquisition of Cesc Fabregas is an astute one, and the return of Thibaut Courtois in goal will make the Blues even more defensively formidable. But midfield and defence are areas in which Mourinho already finds his squad well stocked; the same cannot be said about his forward options.
Costa will give this team a refreshingly aggressive edge at the sharp end of the pitch that will inject some major impetus into the Blues' attacking forays. Chelsea have a host of intricate players that look set to line up behind the front man, and Costa’s ability to occupy defenders and bring teammates into play will provide a great foil for the likes of Eden Hazard and Oscar.
The Spanish international is not one to shirk a challenge, either, and his robust nature should see him adapt well to the unique demands of the Premier League. He’s something of a wind-up merchant, too, a characteristic that is likely to endear him to Chelsea fans but not to too many others.
How many Premier League goals will Costa score next season?
Sid Lowe of The Guardian probably put it best in his piece about Costa from last year, claiming that if he brought his work home he would “goad the dog with a stick, surreptitiously elbow his wife out of the way on the stairs, shrug his shoulders innocently as she lay in a crumpled heap at the bottom and whisper insults to his children, look the other way and whistle when they burst into tears.”
But this constant niggling at the opposition is a key facet of his playing style and aside from his indisputable ability, is probably one of the main reasons why Mourinho has chosen him as the man to lead the line at Chelsea next season. But underpinning these antics is some genuine quality and a player that will become a huge hit with the Stamford Bridge faithful.
The 2014/15 title race has already begun in earnest, with Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool having already strengthened their squad for next season. Mourinho has already conducted some excellent business, but the capture of Costa will be the most important as he looks to savour his first piece of silverware in his second spell at the club.