The Diego Costa saga has finally come to a conclusion with Atletico Madrid reportedly paying around £67 million in order to sign the Spaniard back from Chelsea. Costa has been at loggerheads with Chelsea since the start of the season, as he has been trying to push a return to Madrid. Now that the 28-year-old has been able to seek a return, striker Alvaro Morata will be looking to bury his ghosts at Stamford Bridge. Morata is at 9/1 in the Premier League top goalscorer odds for the 2017-18 season.
Costa scored a remarkable 59 goals in his 120 appearances. It is remarkable to think that Costa came to Chelsea for just £32 million and the club are making a healthy £35 million profit on a 28-year-old. Yet, it is a sale that has been done grudgingly. Costa knew that he wanted to leave Chelsea back in January, but things have been simmering ever since he came to the club. Alvaro Morata has been signed only because Chelsea knew that Costa’s situation was going to go beyond their control – and it indeed was the case with Costa refusing to return to the club at the start of the season.
The Blues may be laughing their way to the bank, but there is no doubt that Antonio Conte will pick Costa over Morata in an ideal world. Morata has made an excellent start to his life at Chelsea after scoring three goals in his first five games, but the differences between the two were apparent in a single game – the goalless draw against Arsenal. The Gunners came in with a spirited performance at Stamford Bridge to get a draw.
Morata played for 89 minutes and had two shots with none on the target. He was marshalled very well by Shkodran Mustafi and Lauren Koscielny. Their previous meeting at Stamford Bridge finished as a 3-1 win for Chelsea with Eden Hazard, Cesc Fabregas, and Marcos Alonso scoring the goals. Costa was also not on the scoresheet, but he had three shots and was able to strike the post with one of those efforts. He had a much better passing accuracy and was able to win more aerial duels. Costa’s presence has always helped his teammates find space and this game was no different. Morata, meanwhile, lacks the aggression that is required to be the differentiating factor in the tight matches.
Of course, Morata is just a couple of matches into his life in the Premier league while Costa was already at the peak of his knowledge about the English game in their 3-1 win. Morata is also just 24 years old while Costa is four years older. But there is no denying that Costa is the better ‘striker’ of the two.
The first five matches at Chelsea and his career at Real Madrid have shown that Morata is a player who thrives when there is a lot of space and counter-attacking opportunities. He is an extremely fast player and has the skill to go along with the pace. The 24-year-old is also a significantly better finisher than Costa, who is not the quickest in the world. Yet, it is possible for Costa to adapt into any match and any situation. His aggression and battling qualities not only appeal to the fans, but it also helps a team get out of any tricky situation. Costa certainly did not hit the heights achieved in the Atletico Madrid colours – he had scored 36 goals in his last season in Spain, but he certainly made a huge impact in the colours of Chelsea.
Along with the advantages that come with the aggression, Costa often found himself in the headlines for the wrong reasons. This has always been against the wishes of Roman Abramovich, as the Russian owner is always keen on projecting Chelsea as a disciplined club which has gone away from the bad image that existed during Jose Mourinho’s first spell with the club. However, Costa was either getting sent off or starting clashes on the pitch due to his temperament issues. The 28-year-old received a whopping 31 yellow cards and one red card during his time at the club, while Morata has just one yellow card in five games for the blues.
Costa has been a huge presence at Chelsea in the last three years and he has helped the club win the two Premier League titles in this period. Yet, he may be quickly forgotten as the season progresses – especially if Morata continues with the way he has started the season. The key objective for Morata is to start scoring a variety of goals rather than just relying upon the crosses from Azpilicueta. As the striker’s fitness continues to grow, his performances will improve. Will Morata be the perfect replacement for Costa? Probably not, but the former Real Madrid star is the best option right now.