There’s no sitting on the fence regarding Chelsea striker Diego Costa; you either love him or hate him. Although, with the Brazilian-born Spain international, you are sure of controversy and aggression, and the 28-year-old has a style of play that many opposition players and fans don’t appreciate.
Back in January, Costa was rumoured to be interested in a move to China and the 28-year-old also revealed that he told Chelsea boss Antonio Conte that he wanted to leave the club at the beginning of the season. With Costa’s attitude and temperament, you can’t be too sure of him, and much credit must be given to Conte for the way he managed the forward’s excesses in the just concluded season.
Chelsea have been linked with two centre-forwards – Romelu Lukaku and Alvaro Morata, and some Blues fans want the club to get rid of Costa and buy any of these names, with many tilting towards Morata than Lukaku. But after a brief analysis of these players, I’m still not sure if one of them can adequately replace that man called Costa.
One good thing Chelsea have always done in the transfer market is to replace players with relative ease. From the goalkeepers to the defenders, midfielders and wingers, Chelsea have always replaced the top stars. But the striking department is one area Chelsea have failed many times, the names Andriy Shevchenko and Fernando Torres are the two biggest names while not forgetting Mateja Kezman. Before the coming of Costa, Didier Drogba was the only reliable striker in the Chelsea team and no one striker could dislodge Drogba or even provide competition. Only Nicolas Anelka justified his signing, and even the Frenchman had to be played from the wing to accommodate Drogba. From 2004 to the Champions League finals in Munich, Chelsea had only one striker — Drogba.
After Drogba left the club in 2012, the club found it difficult to replace him. Samuel Eto’o, Demba Ba and Fernando Torres combined couldn’t fill his shoe and Chelsea struggled until the signing of Diego Costa. Costa till date remains the second quality striker Chelsea have had in over a decade now, which makes me very skeptical in wanting to let him go. He could be a nuisance sometimes, but on his day he’s a beast and he can single-handedly destroy a defence. He was our only threat in the FA Cup final defeat to Arsenal and we saw how he tore down West Brom’s defence back in December.
His 20 goals might not seem much but they have been effective and have given us the title twice in the last three seasons.
Speaking of his importance, of Costa’s 20 Premier League goals, he directly decided the result of seven matches, and earned his team 19 points. That’s just over 20 per cent of the Blues’ 93 points that won them the title.
Costa scored the winning or equalising goal against West Ham United (twice), Watford, Crystal Palace, West Bromwich Albion and Swansea City in 2016/17. Need I say more?
Now, can Lukaku or Morata alone replace this beast of a striker? I still have my doubts.
Lukaku’s stats in the big games are worrisome despite his 25 league goals in the concluded campaign, while I still have my reservations about Morata.
Morata, who’s reportedly close to joining AC Milan might have the pace and work ethic which Conte will definitely love, but his adaptability to the Premier League might be a problem. While he might has scored as many as 15 goals in just 25 appearances for Real Madrid, one can argue that strikers don’t find that much space to bang in the goals in the Premier League. Even Diego Costa scored 30+ goals while in Atletico Madrid. Morata’s scoring stats for Juventus isn’t really impressive; he could only get 15 goals in 63 games.
I still believe Costa is the man for Chelsea, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to sign another striker to provide competition.