Much has been made in a short period of time over the reports that Diego Costa had a bust up with fitness staff and manager Antonio Conte after an apparent £30 million-a-year offer came in from Chinese Super League side Tianjin Quanjian. It would be a huge blow for the Premier League leaders if they were to lose their top goalscorer, but could Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann be the answer for Chelsea? Lewis Addley explores…
Given how the transfer news surrounding Diego Costa’s future is intensifying with each passing day, it would not be a surprise to see the Spaniard depart from the capital and become the third player in the last few months to leave Chelsea for the Chinese Super League.
The purchasing power of the CSL has been well documented and the money being spent by clubs in the league is providing some of the most astonishing transfer fees and wages the game has ever seen.
So if Chelsea were to lose Costa, they may well revisit one of their favourite shopping destinations in the form of Atletico Madrid. Chelsea and Atletico have a strong link with the likes of Thibaut Courtois, Filipe Luis, Tiago Mendes, Fernando Torres and Costa himself having all played for both clubs.
So why would Griezmann consider a move?
It’s no secret that Antoine Griezmann is a man in high demand. He could potentially be swayed with the appeal of playing in the Premier League and the wages Chelsea could offer him for his services. The Frenchman is one of the deadliest strikers in Europe and he would certainly fit the bill to fill a potential void if Costa departs.
The 25-year-old forward netted an impressive 32 goals in 54 games in all competitions last season and he could be tempted away from the Spanish capital considering Atleti are underperforming. He has only netted seven goals this season and a fresh start may suit Griezmann, while also providing Chelsea with a world-class replacement for Costa.
Griezmann’s national teammate N’Golo Kante could also play a part in a potential move. Kante was one of the most sought after midfielders after Euro 2016 and he chose Chelsea ahead of many of Europe’s elite clubs. While wages always seem to play a big part in any high-profile transfer, an appeal for many to join Chelsea is the lifestyle and factor of living in London.
Chelsea are being tipped to win the Premier League this season and are sitting in a comfortable position at the top of the table, however if Costa is to depart the balance of the side could well be rocked. It could play into Griezmann’s hands to come in as a replacement and, providing he hit the ground running, he could continue where Costa left off and fire the Blues to the title.
Why could a January move for Griezmann be unlikely?
January is a difficult time of the year for a player to make a high-profile move. It is the halfway point in the season and it can be tough to settle in, especially without a preseason, getting to know teammates properly and coming into a seemingly settled dressing room.
Chelsea have previous with January transfers not having the desired effect. Though Fernando Torres was a success at the club in terms of the trophy haul, his goalscoring form never hit the dizzy heights from earlier in his career. The burden of carrying a hefty price-tag of £50 million was something Torres struggled to shake off and given the current state of the market, Griezmann would almost certainly be upwards of that figure.
Griezmann has said as recently as this month that he is happy at Atleti. He has Champions League football to look forward to upon it’s return and there is still plenty for him to prove in Madrid.
Costa is yet to leave Chelsea. No official comment has been made from Costa or his agent, so he may well stay at the club at least until the end of the season, when a move for Chelsea to find a replacement would be more favourable.
Do you think Costa will leave Chelsea and is Griezmann the sort of striker who could replace him?