Manchester United will rival Atletico Madrid for the services of Chelsea forward Diego Costa during the summer transfer window, according to the latest rumours from Spain.
Fichajes.net (h/t Daily Express' Dan Gibbs) reported the Red Devils are willing to offer no less than £47 million, blowing Atletico's offer of £35 million out of the water.
The report points at former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, who is among the favourites to replace current United boss Louis van Gaal, and his strong relationship with Costa. The Spain international was always a favourite of Mourinho, who brought him to west London back in 2014.
Costa started the 2015-16 season in dreadful form after a strong campaign last year, but since the departure of Mourinho and appointment of interim manager Guus Hiddink, the 27-year-old has rediscovered his scoring ways, per Sky Sports' Peter Smith:
Diego Costa's fine finish against Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday night may have been in vain but it was a further example of the forward's return to form under Guus Hiddink.
Costa's first-half strike was his 11th in 15 games under the Dutchman. That's some improvement on his return of four in 21 before Hiddink's arrival.
The bruising, physical striker has found a great home in the Premier League, where he gets to play right on the edge―and occasionally over it. Opinions on his antics and his tendency to get right in the face of defenders will divide opinions, but it's hard to argue with the results.
Occasionally, it may lead to suspensions and bad press, and Hiddink believes he has to learn how to tone it down in key situations, per Liam Twomey of ESPN FC:
Liam Twomey @liam_twomey
Hiddink on Costa: "I talked to him many times about playing on the edge & his reactions. We’re happy with his performances." #cfc2016-3-18 13:25:50
Fichajes' report will surely turn heads, as few fans or pundits will have expected Costa to be linked with United. The Red Devils need attacking help, but they're unlikely to get it from the Blues, regardless of the bid they make.
Chelsea have also seen their fair share of struggles at the striker position this season, and Costa's poor form in the first few months of the campaign highlighted their lack of depth. They tried to solve that by signing Alexandre Pato on loan, who hasn't made much of an impact yet.
The Blues are likely to invest in the position during the summer, but given Costa's strong form, they're not expected to go looking for a new starter or sell their current ace.
There have been persistent rumours Costa isn't loving life in west London, however, and he is looking for a way out next summer, per Dean Jones of Bleacher Report:
Bleacher Report UK @br_uk
Diego Costa wants to leave Chelsea #CFC | @DeanJonesBR https://t.co/fiJZiaai9z2016-3-14 13:34:21
It's important to note those rumours usually have one thing in common, per Jones: Costa wants to return to Spain. He enjoyed the best years of his career with Atletico Madrid, a team that has struggled to find a consistent partner for striker Antoine Griezmann and would love to welcome him back.
If it was up to Costa, you would imagine he would choose a move back to the Spanish capital over another Premier League adventure with Manchester United, a club that has failed to live up to the expectations ever since Alex Ferguson left.
On top of that, one has to wonder whether the United faithful would be keen to support Costa as one of their own after watching his antics with Chelsea for two seasons. Callum Davis of the Daily Telegraph called him the “most disliked man' in football for a reason:
It's the one fact that seems to unite all football fans, regardless of club allegiances: everybody hates Diego Costa.
Since arriving in the Premier League, the Chelsea striker has had more theatrical feuds than a WWE wrestler.
[...] Diego Costa refuses to employ the harmlessly entertaining brand of swashbuckling villainy, like a true loveable rogue would.
If Mourinho's controversial nature is what's stopped United from appointing him as their new manager in the past, per the Guardian's Daniel Taylor, then why would the club be open to adding Costa, a player who embodies Mourinho's philosophy more than anyone?
A return to Spain still makes more sense for Costa, although he's just as likely to stay with the Blues next summer.