After a summer of uncertainty about his future, it was confirmed on Thursday afternoon that Chelsea Football Club had agreed a deal worth over £50m with Atlético Madrid for the transfer of Diego Costa.
The 28-year-old Spaniard did not return to the club for training when pre-season preparations began and insisted that he would refuse to play again until he re-signed for Atlético, the club he left for Chelsea in 2014.
Chelsea have already replaced Costa in their squad with the arrival of Álvaro Morata from Real Madrid for a club record fee which could rise to £70m, but many people will be left wondering: Have Chelsea improved their team by replacing Costa with Morata, and was it the right decision to let him go?
After 3 seasons at Chelsea, Diego Costa made 120 appearances for the club, scoring 59 goals in all competitions, just short of a goal every 2 games. He also picked up two Premier League medals, as well as one League Cup in his first season.
However, despite his impressive goal-scoring statistics, Costa was always known to let his anger and aggression get the better of him, and he often found himself getting into trouble because of it. Despite only one red card for Chelsea, he collected a number of retrospective suspensions for violent conduct, and could never seem to restrain himself from confrontation if provoked by an opponent.
His Chelsea career hit a low point in his second season, after only managing 4 goals in all competitions before Christmas, which coincided with then manager José Mourinho’s sacking in mid-December. During this time, he was involved in various confrontations with opponents which many believed to be stepping over the line; Stoke City’s Ryan Shawcross and Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny to name a couple, with the latter an altercation which resulted in Costa receiving a retrospective 3-match suspension.
He rediscovered his goalscoring form last season, scoring 22 goals in all competitions as Chelsea won the Premier League title again and reached the final of the FA Cup. However, reports in January suggested that Costa was trying to push through move to China after falling out with manager Antonio Conte. Despite a move failing to materialise, Costa’s days at Chelsea seemed numbered, and in his final appearance for The Blues against Sunderland in May, he waved to every section of the Stamford Bridge crowd, suggesting that he knew that he wouldn’t be playing for the club again.
Taking everything into account, there can be no denying that Diego Costa’s spell at Chelsea was a successful one, and that it will be difficult for Morata to replicate Costa’s goal-scoring record. However, when a player has made their own mind up about their future at a club, the club is left with very little options about what they can do, as there is no point having a player who doesn’t want to be there, no matter how good they can be.
Only time will tell if Álvaro Morata is capable of filling Diego Costa’s boots at Chelsea, but it would appear that the decision to allow Costa to leave the club was a necessary one for all parties, as the writing had been on the wall since January, and it had become an inevitability that he would be on his way, sooner rather than later.