The Premier League season has come and gone, and while some players will continue to train in preparation for the impending World Cup, most players will now head to the golf course or jet off to some exotic location to begin their off season. But, as we all know, there really is no off season as club managers now have to look to the future and see what improvements they can make for their squad before next season.
And it appears Jose Mourinho and the brain trust at Stamford Bridge are getting a head start.
Reports have been circulating for months that have suggested Chelsea might flash the cash this summer, and Mourinho himself said the club was in position to spend upwards of £50m on a proven, world-class striker. And then, on Monday, Sky Sports confirmed that the West London club had indeed agreed on a £32m deal for Atletico Madrid star, Diego Costa, said to be completed after the Champions League final in which Costa and his Atletico teammates will face crosstown rivals Real Madrid.
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The deal signals a bold move for the club and fills a void that quite possibly meant the difference between winning the title and finishing 3rd, which is where they ended the campaign. The lack of a proven goal scorer on the Blue’s was well documented, as the combination of Samuel Eto’o, Fernando Torres, and Demba Ba (or “Etootorresba” according to Men In Blazers) only managed 19 goals between them over their combined 68 appearances. The addition of Costa should, on paper, bolster the team’s attacking presence across the board.
As you can see, with the exception of assists (though Torres only bested him by 2), Costa’s offensive numbers far surpass that of the three-headed “monster” (if we could even call it that?); nearly doubling their goal total, and falling a mere 6 created chances behind the sum of all three. Yes, he played more minutes than each individual Chelsea man, but, adding their minutes together (3,545), we see that his time spent on the pitch was significantly more productive than what either Eto’o, Torres, or Ba could muster. And while expecting 27 goals in his first Premier League season might be a tad ambitious, one can probably safely assume due to his own talent and the talent of his supporting cast (Hazard, Willian, Schürrle etc.), that the addition of this Spanish international should no doubt be an upgrade over who Chelsea were fielding at the position last season.
Costa’s 2013/2014 season can truly be labeled as a breakout performance. His 27 goals topped his previous best of 10 (scored in 2012), and helped him stake his claim as one of the most feared – and sought-after – strikers in the world. Perhaps his most impressive stat, aside from the 27 balls that found the back of the net, was his shot accuracy.
Obviously 57% doesn’t sound like anything special, but when you consider he took over 90 shots this year, suddenly that number begins to sound a lot better. To be able to put that many shots on target signals a special touch that, quite frankly, not everyone possesses.
26 of his 27 goals were scored from inside the 20-yard box. This demonstrates an innate ability to score from close quarters. And, when looking at how those goals were scored, we see that 11 were scored with his left foot, 14 with the right, and 2 more with his good ol’ noggin. Clearly he’s not a one-dimensional striker and can score with either foot – again, something that not everyone can do.
Costa is being brought in to do one thing, and that’s score goals. Chelsea forwards were routinely avoided in fantasy circles last season, as the inconsistency and general revolving door that was the position left fantasy owners scratching their heads and forced them to look elsewhere when setting their lineups. This should not be the case with Costa. The back 4 along with some creative midfielders should allow for him to do what he does best. Don’t expect 27 goals right away, but somewhere in the neighborhood of 15+ should be well within reach for this star-studded striker.