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After months of widespread unofficial acceptance, Atletico Madrid’s Diego Costa has officially joined Chelsea football club in a fee of around 32 million euros. He scored 35 goals in his last season with the La Liga side. Therefore, there is a reason to be highly optimistic if you’re a Chelsea fan, however, this is a heavy undertone that surrounds the transfer itself.
If a Chelsea striker’s middle name isn’t Didier and last name isn’t Drogba, you’d be hard pressed to find a striker that delivered consistently for the London Blues. The likes of Fernando Torres and Andrey Shevchenko, the best of the business on their day, simply never found their form for the Blues. There are arguably numerous reasons to why this was the case – injuries and incompatible systems that maximize the #9 as the main reasons.
However, there is good reason to believe that Diego Costa will take up where Drogba left off, rather than continue Torres’ long running poor sense of form. Yes, the Spanish striker had a very mediocre tournament with the Spanish national side in Brazil 2014, but that could be said for nearly all the players that featured on the pitch during the competition. The possession oriented style of the national side was simply too different from the high- pressure, counterattacking system employed during his successful season at Atletico. His strengths are his movement and his ability to bully the opposition’s defense. Even in the 1-5 loss vs the Netherlands, Diego Costa was able to connect with a couple through passes from the likes of Andres Iniesta and David Silva. However, he needs as much space as possible to maximize his playstyle – the Dutch defense sat deep while the Chileans (who knocked out Spain) harassed Spain’s midfield to a point where they couldn’t consistently supply Diego Costa.
For the last two seasons, the London Blues had to depend on the trickery and combination play of Juan Mata, Eden Hazard, Oscar, and Willian in order to score goals. The likes of Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto’o, and Demba Ba were simply too isolated and weren’t able to deal with a strong back-line on a consistent basis. This was especially a problem against smaller sides, who naturally would prefer to sit back and limit the amount of space for Chelsea’s midfielders and forwards to operate in. It also didn’t help that with Torres’ poor run of form, Chelsea were unable to legitimately threaten these smaller sides with a solid number nine.
The style of play for Diego Costa is the most similar to Didier Drogba; both have imposing physiques, both are a nightmare in the 18 yard box, both can bully the opposition’s defense, and both excel at bringing in others into play. This is the exact mold of a forward that Chelsea Football Club would be most suited to mostly right now. Diego Costa, with his bulk, would be able to bring in the likes of Eden Hazard, Oscar, Willian, and Fabregas into play. His runs/movement would leave defenses even more concerned. His bulk and strength also allows him to truly thrive in a premier league environment that boasts plenty of defenses with strong physical qualities. He may not score plenty of goals, but its these other qualities that truly allow Chelsea to be more dynamic and threatening in the final third. It gives the Blues more options. Against tougher sides, Diego Costa will again thrive in counterattacking moves – he can easily become a handful for the the one or two defenders that have to deal with his pace and strength on the break.
Diego Costa may not have had the most convincing of World Cup tournaments, but generally speaking, Chelsea and Diego Costa look like a good match.