Acoording to various reports Diego Costa’s move to Chelsea is all but done, but in the wake of a subdued finish to his club season and a less than impressive World Cup with Spain, the question should be asked; is Jose Mourinho really getting a world class striker? Jack Cahill discusses.
Diego Costa is a name that became well known in the football community this year. His performances for Atletico Madrid were a big part of their title winning success. His stock has risen considerably and his performances caught the eye of some of Europe’s biggest clubs. This has subsequently earned him a reported £32 million move to Stamford Bridge.
There is a reason as to why many have only recently become aware of the 25 year-old. Until this year he simply has not been noticeable at all. Costa was loaned out to a number of teams and only really began to score goals in his last two seasons.
He had never reached double figures until the 2011/2012 season with Atletico Madrid when he finished with 10 goals in La Liga and 20 goals in total. In the season just gone by he excelled and scored 27 in 35 league appearances and 36 in all competitions. He has clearly excelled when given the chance to act as the lead striker.
The lead striker is a role he was never truly given while playing in the shadows of Sergio Aguero, Diego Forlan and most recently Radamel Falcao. It could be argued then that he may excel at Chelsea where he should be preferred over Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto’o and Demba Ba. (That is if any of them are still at Chelsea to challenge for a starting place.)
In this respect he could prove to be the perfect player for a Chelsea side which Mourinho himself has said is crying out for a top class striker. However there are no guarantees that Costa will be a success and a reflection on Chelsea’s previous big money purchases would lead to strong reservations. This uncertainty has only deepened after a less than impressive outing with Spain in the World Cup.
Costa’s World Cup with Spain
BBC’s pundits were quick to criticise Vicente del Bosque’s inclusion of Diego Costa after Spain were dismantled by The Netherlands. Alan Shearer was of the opinion that Costa’s conflicting style was partially to blame. Costa’s rough edges may not have fit perfectly into Spain’s usually neat and tidy jigsaw, however if Del Bosque had not played him and lost then the criticism heaped upon the 63 year-old would have been much more severe.
A supposedly world class ‘Spanish’ striker emerged in the form of Diego Costa and Spain were expected to abandon their winning formula to accommodate him. The much documented ‘death of tiki-taka’ may have been a contributing factor in del Bosque’s tactical approach. With hindsight he may have alternatively decided to utilise his six-man midfield with a ‘false-9’ in the striking department in an attempt to dominate possession, as the Spanish team have done successfully in the past.
But Del Bosque changed his set-up and the availability of a recognised and prolific striker saw them attempt to play a much more incisive and direct game. The effect was swiftly apparent, it did not work. The stats below are testament to the lack of Costa’s influence during his two appearances.
Minutes played: 126
Shots on target: 0
Touches in the box: 10
His lacklustre performances at the World Cup with Spain rang the alarm bells aloud for Chelsea fans who have seen a host of previously potent strikers losing their edge at Stamford Bridge; Andriy Shevchenko and Fernando Torres are two examples that immediately come to mind.
However these alarm bells were ringing before the World Cup. Many people are aware of the risks associated in forking out huge sums for a striker on the back of one or two good seasons. A couple of good seasons does not guarantee anything in terms of the longevity, success, or consistency of a player as Alexandre Pato and Robinho have shown in the past.
Despite all the reservations Costa’s playing style should suit Chelsea. Atletico Madrid often used a counter attacking system which afforded Costa the space to use his strength in tandem with his reasonable pace. His ability to hold up the game was important and this role would suit Chelsea perfectly.
A player in the ilk of Didier Drogba could be just what Chelsea need to make a push for the title this season. Fans will however be hopeful that Costa will not join the list of players to flop in the Premier League following a decent season or two in one of the so-called ‘lesser’ leagues.
Hopes are high for Costa but Atletico Madrid previously sold the Spaniard, only to get him back through a buy-back clause in his contract. Until then his goal-scoring record was less than impressive, marked with extended goal droughts including a five-and-a-half month period without finding the net at Valladolid. Only time will tell if Costa is worth £32 million but based on his career thus far it is easy to see why so many are labeling him as overrated.
Jack Cahill, Pundit Arena
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