Atletico Madrid are reportedly putting plans together to bring Diego Costa back to the club from Chelsea this summer, with manager Diego Simeone said to be heavily involved in the deal.
According to Marca (Colin Harvey of the Daily Star), the Blues are “working hard” on a deal to sign the centre-forward, who famously fired the Rojiblancos to the La Liga title in the 2013-14 season. Costa has endured a tough campaign at Stamford Bridge, but he seems to be coming to life again under Guus Hiddink.
Although the forward has scored plenty of goals for the Blues since joining in the summer of 2014, Atletico fans saw the best of him in that title-winning campaign. Here’s a reminder of what he’s capable of producing:
Harvey wrote that Costa is “desperate” to return to the Spanish capital, while manager Simeone is “personally involved” in the efforts to try to lure him back.
For Atletico it’d be a major boost. After all, the Spain international is the perfect forward for Simeone’s side, as he embodies the tenacity, work rate and understated quality that bristles in this team. Additionally, with Antoine Griezmann shining up front, there’s the potential for a devastating partnership too.
However, Chelsea will not want to part ways with a player who is extremely popular at Stamford Bridge. As we can see here courtesy of OptaJoe, as of late, he’s been finding the back of the net once again:
7 - Diego Costa has scored seven goals in his last eight Premier League appearances. Form.2016-2-13 17:40:37
While Atletico may be keen on getting a deal done, and the player may be tempted by the prospect himself, the Blues will not want to part with a quality centre-forward without finding a replacement of their own. There are few forwards around who can have an impact on matches quite as significant as Costa’s.
John Obi Mikel Contract Considered
According to the Sunday Mirror, Chelsea are mulling over whether to offer midfielder John Obi Mikel a new contract after his recent upturn in form.
Since Hiddink took over at Stamford Bridge Mikel has become a crucial part of the side, which remains undefeated in domestic matches under the Dutchman.
“Such has been his form, and the fact he has proved he can be called upon at any time to do a job for the team, that the Blues powerbrokers are now giving real thought to the offer of a contract extension,” noted the piece.
Indeed, Mikel, whose contract expires at the end of next season, has been a regular part of the Chelsea squad since he joined the club a decade ago and although he scarcely featured under Jose Mourinho, he has shown there is plenty he can offer the side yet.
As noted by football writer Jonathan Wilson, Hiddink seems to appreciate the stability and defensive awareness the Nigeria international brings to the team:
Jonathan Wilson @jonawils
Hiddink really seems to like Mikel - has only not started four league games under him across the two spells. https://t.co/jtOUaSOT3O2016-2-16 20:36:49
A new contract seems logical. Not only has the 28-year-old showed his quality on the field as of late, but he’s one of a few players in this Chelsea team that has been a long-term feature at the club.
With John Terry’s contract set to expire in the summer, a new manager would surely want a someone in the dressing room who knows the club inside out.
After a decade at Stamford Bridge, Mikel is almost part of the furniture. And while he may not be the flashiest footballer in this star-studded Chelsea squad, he’s dependable and experienced.
While the Blues need to add quality to various areas of the squad, that process needs to be underpinned by players who do the unfashionable things; that’s something the Nigerian has made a career out of.