Diego Costa staying? Chelsea’s striker crisis could be solved

Chelsea have shown little intent in the summer transfer window so far. The main talk has been about the future of their controversial striker. Antonio Conte has been looking to offload him, but is Diego Costa staying?

The Blues have struggled so far to bring in a replacement for Costa. They have seemingly missed out on bringing Romelu Lukaku back to Stamford Bridge. With the Belgian closing in on a move to Manchester United, so Chelsea are running out of options.

It is reported that Chelsea manager Antonio Conte could be set for a U-turn on his decision to sell the Spaniard. If Diego Costa’s staying, Chelsea’s striker crisis could be solved. Chelsea’s preseason is days away and a solution before then would be ideal.

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Diego Costa staying: Positives

Costa is a two-time Premier League champion, he has proven his worth. His goalscoring record speaks for itself, with 58 in 210 appearances meaning he averages just under a goal every other game.

Chelsea’s number 19 has a great relationship with his teammates and the fans. Although no players have crossed Conte’s decision, they have spoken of their fondness of Costa.

With the possibility of Diego Costa staying, Chelsea do not have to spend money on a new striker. This means they can spend money elsewhere in the team and try to sign other players they need. And if he does stay for the rest of his contract, Chelsea won’t need to sign a striker until 2019.

Is Diego Costa staying at Chelsea?

Diego Costa enjoying his holiday. Via: @diego.costa on Instagram

Diego Costa staying: Negatives

Costa and Antonio Conte already have a rocky relationship. It will be difficult for them to see eye to eye and problems will more than likely happen again. If the pair clash midseason it would be impossible to see anything positive come from Diego Costa staying.

The Spaniard has already asked to leave Chelsea more than once since signing in 2014. He clearly feels he has unfinished business at Atletico. Once their transfer ban is over, Costa will probably look to force a move again. So this might leave Chelsea with the same problem of needing to sign a new striker in January.

Is Diego Costa staying? Would this be good for Chelsea?

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Is this striker the perfect answer to Chelsea’s Costa crisis?

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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

Why resigning Lukaku if Costa leaves Chelsea would be a backward step

Diego Costa’s Chelsea future continues to look uncertain with the Spaniard rumoured to be unsettled. Former Blue, Romelu Lukaku has been linked with a mega-money return to the club just two years on from his departure. Lewis Addley explores why resigning the Belgian would be a backward step for the club…

Antonio Conte has been steadily making his mark on Chelsea through their preseason tour but there has been one notable absentee in the form of Diego Costa. The Spaniard has struggled to take part in some of Conte’s sessions due to a persistent back problem and has barely racked up any minutes playing time.

The rumours surrounding Costa’s future have intensified since Chelsea’s 3-2 defeat to Real Madrid last weekend. The forward was secretly videoed in conversation with fellow countryman Sergio Ramos who apparently questioned the reasons why Costa wasn’t rejoining Atletico Madrid.

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According to The Metro, Ramos asked Costa ‘Why don’t you come back to Madrid?’ The Chelsea man’s response couldn’t be seen as he had his back to the camera, but Ramos’ follow up question appears to repeat Costa’s response: ‘They won’t let you?’

While this is only speculative on the basis of lipreading it has not painted the situation in any better light for Chelsea fans.

If Costa is to leave the club, Chelsea will need to find a replacement for their first-choice striker, and Lukaku is looking likely to push for an exit from Everton.

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The odds have been slashed for a return to Chelsea for Lukaku so let’s have a look at why it would be a backward step for the club.

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Costa vs Lukaku EPL stats since 14/15 provided by Squawka

As we can see, since the 2014/15 Premier League season, Costa has scored four more goals than the Belgian in 19 less games. While there is an argument for Lukaku being a more favourable choice due to being less injury prone, his minutes per goal output is nowhere near as impressive as Costa’s.

Lukaku has contributed more assists and does have a higher take on success percentage, but along with his goalscoring statistics Costa also boasts better shot accuracy and pass completion.

Costa averages a goal every 1.68 games, compared to Lukaku’s 2.6. Hypothetically speaking, if Costa had played the extra 19 games difference between the two with his goal per game average he could have potentially scored another 11 times.

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One thing that does play into Lukaku’s favour is age, still only 23 he has a long career ahead of him and plenty of time to learn. Although Costa isn’t even at his peak, at 27, his playing days would arguably come to an end before Lukaku, providing both steer clear of major injuries.

Do you think signing Lukaku as Costa’s replacement would be a backward step? Will either of these players even move before the window closes?

Would Graziano Pelle improve Chelsea’s attacking options?

Since the appointment of Antonio Conte, Chelsea have been linked with a number of players and transfer rumours are only further increasing since Italy were knocked out of the European Championship. Graziano Pelle, a surprise package at the tournament, has been linked with a move to the West London club to continue working under Conte, but would he improve Chelsea’s attacking options? Lewis Addley explores…

Graziano Pelle enjoyed a productive Euro 2016, if only for his personal reputation. The first-choice Italian forward netted two goals in his four games and, like the rest of his teammates, was bitterly disappointed to have fallen to Germany in the quarterfinal on penalties.

A widely held view is that Conte exceeded expectations with an Italian squad who were labelled as weaker than previous Italian teams. Pelle has been reported to be a target for Conte from a number of sources.

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Chelsea’s current frontline for the new season boasts Diego Costa, who is ‘100% staying‘ to be part of Conte’s revolution, new signing Michy Batshuayi, Loic Remy and Bertrand Traore.

Diego Costa netted just 12 Premier League goals last season, while Batshuayi’s 17 Ligue 1 goals earned him the £33 million move to the Blues last week. Remy, scoring just once, was used sparingly last season and many have expected him to be on the move ahead of the 2016/17 campaign, while Bertrand Traore’s development continues as he is seen as one for the future.

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So would Graziano Pelle improve Chelsea’s attacking options?

The Southampton striker boasted a strike rate of just better than one in three in the 2015/16 Premier League season, with 11 goals in his 30 appearances. He created 37 chances for his teammates, ten more than Batshuayi’s 27, and substantially beating Costa’s nine and Remy’s four.

Pelle registered six assists, only Batshuayi bettered that with ten, while Costa provided one and Remy none.

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Diego Costa had the best shot accuracy out of the four players with 79%, while Pelle came in at 39% – the lowest percentage of those compared. Batshuayi managed 56% and Remy was the second lowest on 50%.

With these stats in mind it wouldn’t be wrong to suggest Pelle could be a good squad addition, but with Costa looking set to stay put and with Batshuayi eager to develop into one of the world’s most deadly strikers, the Italian would be joining Chelsea with the knowledge he wouldn’t be a guaranteed starter.

Is Pelle a good fit for Chelsea? Will they go in for the 30-year-old striker?

STATS: Are Chelsea better off with or without Diego Costa?

Controversial Chelsea striker Diego Costa has been charged for his actions in his side’s 2-0 win against Arsenal on Saturday.

Costa remained on the field, much to Arsene Wenger’s dismay, after his altercation with Arsenal defenders Laurent Koscielny and Gabriel. The Spaniard has been charged with violent conduct, while Gabriel has been charged with improper conduct, while both clubs have been charged for failing to control their players.

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The Chelsea forward has netted just twice so far this season, only once in the Premier League and his reputation is worsening with on-field antics overshadowing his determined performances.

Costa netted 20 times last season but strangely his side boast a better win percentage when he isn’t playing.

With Costa

Without Costa

44

Games

18

26

Wins

12

12

Draws

4

6

Losses

2

59%

Win Percentage

67%

Costa has shown in glimpses this season what he is capable of but he, like many other Chelsea players, are certainly under-performing by comparison to their lofty standards set by last year’s Premier League title win.

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If Chelsea decide to appeal the charge and are unsuccessful, they will be without Costa for three games, but based on the stats above, they might not have anything to worry about.

Does Diego Costa need to change his approach on the field? Has he crossed the line?

Arsenal legend reveals why Chelsea will NOT beat his former side

Arsenal host Chelsea in the standout fixture in the Premier League this weekend and if they lose Jose Mourinho’s side will be just three points away from securing the title. But former Arsenal star, Paul Merson, believes Diego Costa’s absence will stop Chelsea beating the Gunners at the Emirates on Sunday.

Chelsea have somewhat struggled offensively without their Spanish goal-machine, who has bagged an impressive 19 Premier League goals in his debut campaign, and he will miss this weekend’s game through injury again.

The West London side have scored just twice since Costa’s latest hamstring problem forced him off in their 2-1 win over Southampton earlier this month.

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Since his omission from the side they have won two out of two, producing strong defensive displays to win 1-0 against both Queens Park Rangers and Manchester United, but looked lacklustre in front of goal in both games.

Mourinho has set his sides out to be very astute defensively but Paul Merson believes Chelsea will not have what it takes to beat Arsenal at the Emirates, according to The Express.

“If Costa’s fit it’s a different game, but if he’s not fit I can’t see any goals,” the former Arsenal man said.

“Last week, Chelsea had 30 per cent of the play at home but Man Utd never looked like scoring.”

Merson expects another defensive display from Chelsea as they look to extend their unbeaten run in the league and take another huge step towards the title.

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“I think Mourinho will go there, make sure they don’t lose, and that will be it.”

Eden Hazard’s strike against United was enough to secure all three points for Chelsea last weekend and he will be the main goal threat once again on Sunday.

Loic Remy remains sidelined and Didier Drogba is facing a late fitness test due to an ankle problem, so Chelsea could actually start without a recognised forward.

Will Chelsea’s lack of attacking options cost them the game against Arsenal on Sunday?

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Chelsea vs Manchester United

Competition: Premier League – Chelsea vs. Manchester United 

Venue: Stamford Bridge – Saturday, April 18th – 17:30 BST (12:30 ET)

Match Odds: Chelsea 1/1 – Draw 12/5 – Manchester United 11/4

Match Preview

Chelsea host Manchester United on Saturday evening in the standout fixture in the Premier League this weekend as they look to take one more step towards their first title since 2010.

The Blues endured a tough game last weekend against Queens Park Rangers, stealing all three points in the final knockings of the game through Cesc Fabregas, and are still seven points clear at the top of the table.

Manchester United will be absolutely buzzing ahead of this one though, and will be full of confidence after their demolition of rivals Manchester City at Old Trafford last Sunday.

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Louis Van Gaal’s team are coming good and things are really kicking into place as they have won six on the bounce as things certainly look to be back on the up for United.

United are probably one of the last teams Chelsea will want to face at this stage of the season and this is a must win for Jose Mourinho ahead of the following week’s game against title rivals, Arsenal, at the Emirates.

The earlier meeting in the season between the two sides ended in a 1-1 draw and United haven’t beaten Chelsea at Stamford Bridge since 2012.

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Van Gaal’s side are in fine form though and this is the strongest United side to face Chelsea since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson.

This could be a pivotal game in the race for the title and Mourinho will not want to give the chasing pack any hope that his side can be caught.

Team News

Chelsea will be without goal-machine, Diego Costa, who also missed out in the reverse fixture, but Loic Remy could return after missing out last weekend too. Those are Chelsea’s only two injury concerns as the squad is in good shape. Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic will need to be on high-alert once again after escaping last weekend without a yellow card. If either of the midfielders picks one up here they will miss the clash with Arsenal the following week.

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Manchester United have just three injury concerns to Michael Carrick, Robin van Persie and Luke Shaw to deal with, but all three players could be set to return to the squad this weekend. Jonny Evans remains banned and we can expect a key performance from former Chelsea man, Juan Mata. The Spaniard has hit fine form and is scoring important goals, and he will have a point to prove against his former employers.

Key Points

Chelsea’s last five: W/D/W/W/W

Manchester United’s last five: W/W/W/W/W

Key Stat: Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 16 home league matches at Stamford Bridge and it will take a lot for United to end that run on Sunday afternoon.

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Key Player: Juan Mata – United’s player of the moment is on fire, scoring in their wins over Liverpool and Manchester City as he looks to be back to his very best and Chelsea could be on the receiving end of his supreme talent this weekend.

Score Prediction

Chelsea 2-1 Manchester United – Chelsea to just edge over the line once again as they have done so many times this season. Mourinho will want a tidy and tight performance from his side but the United machine is moving at full pace, so they will be very hard to stop.

Agent claims Everton star is better than Chelsea’s Diego Costa

Everton striker Romelu Lukaku‘s new agent, Mino Raiola has claimed his client is better than Chelsea star Diego Costa and claims the Belgian forward will play for either Manchester City, Manchester United, Bayern Munich or Paris Saint-Germain one day.

The Daily Express reported that Lukaku would never have made the move to Everton if he had been represented by Raiola before the deal was agreed.

“If we had met each other earlier, he wouldn’t have played for Everton, maybe somewhere else, maybe he would still be at Chelsea,” he said.

“I want to be clear: Romelu is a better striker than Diego Costa and could have done the same as the Spaniard did this season.”

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Raiola went on to state that Lukaku will not be an Everton player for the long-term and believes his client will be plying his trade for one of Europe’s biggest sides.

“We will see what happens in the summer, but the Everton directors don’t have to think Rom will play there for the rest of his career.

“Later on, he’ll play for one of world’s best teams: PSG, Manchester City, Manchester United or Bayern Munich. Big names, but nothing is impossible as Rom has great potential.”

Costa has scored an impressive 19 goals in 23 Premier League games this season and is the joint top scorer in the league, alongside Harry Kane.

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Lukaku has just eight goals in 30 league games, so Raiola’s comments are a little surprising but it must be highlighted that he claimed client ‘could have’ emulated the Spaniard at Chelsea this campaign.

Jose Mourinho decided to sell Lukaku as he felt that the powerful Belgian was not the man to lead the Blues forward and Costa has certainly thrived in his first Premier League season.