Diego Costa has been destined to leave Chelsea since his flirtations with a big-money move to China in January last season. It obviously failed to materialise and the striker knuckled down to help Chelsea win the Premier League and reach the FA Cup final.
However, the relationship between Costa and Antonio Conte was strained from that day forth. The Italian recently claimed he had decided to sell the former Atletico Madrid star since he tried to leave the club in January.
To prepare for Costa’s departure, Chelsea dipped into the transfer market to capture Alvaro Morata in a big-money deal from Real Madrid.
Costa, therefore, has been left in limbo.
“I don’t want to comment too much. The fact is he is still with Chelsea. The most important thing to me is the work of my club in general, not only in training. I have to work with what I have.” –Simeone on the Costa speculation.
Both Chelsea and the player expected him to return to Atletico Madrid to play under Diego Simeone, but the club’s transfer ban has somewhat put a spanner in the works, with a transfer now looking unlikely. Where does that leave Costa?
Costa the complete striker
The Brazil born forward is still a top-level player who would get into most sides in Europe. He is a great finisher, but it’s his exceptional all-round qualities that are perhaps most endearing, as they make him the ideal complete forward and someone to lead the line.
The 28-year-old has spearheaded the Chelsea attack for three seasons now and has been a major figure in their last two Premier League title wins, scoring 52 league goals in 89 appearances and proving to be an all-round menace for opposition defenders, particularly by virtue of his careful aggression.
Costa is a ruthless and versatile finisher, comfortable with either foot or his head. He is brilliant at dropping to help link and build up play and drives defenders insane with his aggressiveness and antics.
Costa plays to win. He is extremely strong and has a good turn of pace although he tends not to rely on this. Of course, he is the definition of ‘you love him if you have him, loathe him if you don’t.’
His all-round qualities and persona are the envy of some of the biggest clubs in Europe, and of course the world with his previous links to China.
His relationship with Chelsea and Conte is now seemingly too fractious for a return to the first team to be on the cards. The Blues certainly missed his presence at the top of the pitch against Arsenal in the Community Shield and there are doubts as to whether Michy Batshuayi and new big money signing Morata can replace his all-round quality.
But what next for the Spanish international? He still has several years left at the top level and is arguably entering the prime of his career.
Costa’s next option
A return to Atlético looked inevitable and is a match made in heaven. He suits Simeone’s aggressive style of play down to the ground, as we saw from his previous spell at the club where he was a major factor in helping the side to the 2013/14 La Liga title, also reaching the Champions League final that same season.
However, with Argentine Simeone apparently ruling Atlético out of the running, where does that leave Costa?
AC Milan were rumoured to be extremely interested. The Italian giants have already spent well over a £100 million on new signings this summer to help the club get back to the top and may see Costa as the final piece of the jigsaw.
They could certainly do with an established world class striker like Costa, with a winners’ mentality.
However, despite his quality being the envy of many clubs, most of the great clubs are unlikely to go after Costa. German giants Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund both have a world class striker already leading their line, as do Spaniards Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Chelsea simply wouldn’t sell him to a Premier League rival, and all the other top clubs in England also have an established striker to lead their line. PSG have Edinson Cavani, though could view Costa as an upgrade, and could certainly do with another striker to take the burden off of the Uruguayan.
Whatever happens next for Costa, he himself probably doesn’t know. His heart was set on a return to Atlético and that move is now up in the air. It leaves Chelsea with a world class talent on their books who is unlikely to make a return and see any game time.
It wouldn’t be Diego Costa if it wasn’t dramatic.
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