Despite coming so close to success in the Premier League and Champions League last season, there was always the sense that something was missing at Chelsea. Jose Mourinho’s second coming brought the good times back to Stamford Bridge, but the current squad lacks one key ingredient – a top quality target man.
Didier Drogba was pivotal to the success Chelsea enjoyed during Mourinho’s first spell at the club, as it was his all-round play and goal-scoring ability that made the difference where it matters. The club’s current crop of strikers may bring their own qualities to the team, but none of them enjoyed productive seasons in front of goal.
Losing Samuel Eto’o further increased the necessity for Mourinho to bring in a striker within his promise to make big changes at Chelsea. The ‘Special One’ has certainly kept to his word, as Cesc Fabregas’ arrival at the club from Barcelona for £28 million will be followed by the acquisition of Atletico Madrid hotshot Diego Costa. Both signings have propelled Chelsea to favourites in the Premier League odds, with the undoubted quality of Fabregas and Costa making the Blues a much stronger bet to overcome their title rivals during the upcoming 2014/2015 season.
Costa at Atletico
Scoring 27 goals in 35 La Liga games for Atletico Madrid last season illustrates the wonderful progress Diego Costa has made over the last couple of seasons from a striker with potential to one of the most lethal finishers in Europe.
Diego Simeone has nurtured Costa into the archetypal target man with physical presence to hold off defenders and lay the ball off, but more importantly have the clinical touch. Costa illustrated his presence and considerable threat against Chelsea in both games during the Champions League semi-final between the two clubs, scoring a decisive penalty in the second leg to turn the tie in Atletico’s favour.
Simeone played to Costa’s strengths and utilised him within an eye-catching style of football. Costa may not be the most skilful or flamboyant striker, but he has more than enough quality to be a wonderful signing for Chelsea and score the goals that will make all the difference between falling short at the final hurdle and success.
World Cup disappointment
Registering as a Spanish national was always likely to not go down well during the World Cup in Brazil – the country Costa was born in. It placed more pressure on Costa’s shoulders, with the bustling striker already heading to Brazil 2014 as Spain’s most in-form striker.
Despite scoring a considerable number of goals at domestic and European level, it always looked likely that Costa would struggle to adapt his game to the tiki-taka style of football that has brought Spain unheralded success in recent years. This proved to be the case as Costa struggled to make any sort of impact as Spain crashed out of the World Cup after just two group games – an exit which took everyone by surprise.
Costa at Chelsea
Although concerns were likely to be raised due to his poor performances at the World Cup, Chelsea fans should remember that Diego Costa was being played in a system that was never likely to suit his style of play.
Moving to Chelsea is a marriage made in heaven; Mourinho was crying out for a Drogba type of striker who could be the focal point for the team, and have the physical presence to bully defenders and utilise their power to score goals – qualities that Costa possesses.
Costa should thrive upon the top quality service that is likely to come his way, with Fabregas, Eden Hazard and Oscar all having the ability to pick out the burly striker in and around the area to make Chelsea a real attacking threat next season.