There are two questions hanging over Diego Costa today: will he be fit enough to start against Barcelona in tonight’s Champions League tie, and will he be starting a career at Chelsea in the new season.
Jose Mourinho, ever one for plain speaking, has made no secret of his disdain for the current Chelsea forward line. Demba Ba, Fernando Torres and Samuel Eto’o have 15 league goals between them this season, whereas the increasingly deadly Costa has already hit 31 for Atletico Madrid. Everton loanee Lukaku has fared better, but Mourinho has burnt his bridges with the young striker and he won’t be returning.
In ominous news for the current forwards at Stamford Bridge, Mourinho stated yesterday: “It’s clear to everybody that Chelsea next year wants to bring a striker.” It’s equally obvious that Costa is at the top of his wanted list.
After a brief dip in form in January, Diego has found his mojo again. He doesn’t just score the goals, he’s an all action player that covers every inch of the pitch. It seems certain that Costa will be a first choice striker for adopted nation Spain at the World Cup. That will see his stock, and valuation, grow, so Jose will want to tie up a deal before then. And he has two big bargaining chips.
Atletico’s other outstanding player this season has been goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. At just 21 years of age, he can make a serious claim to be one of the best stoppers in the world. He’s made over 100 appearances in 3 years at Atletico, but all of them on loan at Chelsea. Atletico are desperate to hold onto him for next season, but Chelsea are adamant they want him back at the bridge. Courtois himself will not be prepared to be reserve to Peter Cech. So is there a compromise?
Courtois could be loaned to Atletico for another season, as part of a deal to bring in Diego Costa. Fernando Torres could also find himself returning to his former club as part of the deal. Here’s what I believe will happen. Costa will be a Chelsea striker next season for a fee of around €25 plus Fernando Torres, with Courtois spending another season on loan at Atletico.
And tonight? Diego will shake off the knock he got at the weekend and start at Camp Nou. It should be a firecracker of a game, and I tip it to be a score draw.