Chelsea finally completed the signing of Diego Costa from Atletico Madrid for a fee of £32 million last week. The naturalised Spaniard will link up with his new team-mates this week along with the other Blues who exited the World Cup at the group stage, as the squad head to Europe to begin their pre-season tour.
Costa has been heralded as the solution to Chelsea’s longstanding striker problems. His 35 goals in 43 appearances for Atletico in La Liga and the Champions League seem to back this up, but there is still concern from some Blues supporters.
The Premier League is renowned as being more physical than its continental counterparts. There is no particular style that can be said to represent the league as a whole, and it is generally far more competitive than La Liga. Atletico may have broken the Real Madrid-Barcelona duopoly by claiming the title last season, but there were four teams who had realistic chances at the Premier League title until the final few games.
It was the Blues’ inability to break down West Ham, Sunderland, West Bromwich Albion and Norwich City at Stamford Bridge that ultimately prevented Jose Mourinho from winning the league trophy in his first season back. Poor positioning from the strikers and a predictable attack saw the wizardry of Eden Hazard, Willian and Oscar frequently fizzle out on the edge of the 18-yard box as they failed to find a target further forward.
Costa looks like he could change that.
Comparisons have been drawn between the Spaniard and Chelsea legend Didier Drogba. Without having seen Costa play alongside his new team-mates yet, it looks as though they could be favourable.
Both are tall, strong, imposing strikers who cause havoc for opposition defences. Costa was fouled 116 times in La Liga last season, winning free-kicks that Chelsea’s skilled attacking midfielders would be itching to convert. He also averaged 3.1 shots per game, showing a hunger for goals that has been distinctly lacking from the Blues’ strikeforce since Drogba departed. The fact that he converted 25 percent of those shots into goals is just the icing on the cake.
There are concerns around his discipline as he has a reputation for being petulant and hot-headed on the field. However, Drogba was much the same when he joined Chelsea, and although his temperament did not settle down until the very end of his Stamford Bridge career, he worked out how to use it to his advantage.
It took Drogba two years of careful coaching and guidance from Mourinho until he really hit his stride in England. He scored 16 goals in both 2004-05 and 2006-07, with 10 and 12, respectively, in the Premier League.
At the time that Drogba joined, Chelsea were at the beginning of their journey to consistent success. Unfortunately for Costa, things are different in SW6 now, and he is unlikely to be afforded the same amount of time to replicate his La Liga form in the Premier League.
The big problem is, he might well need it.