As much as Chelsea fans may loathe the comparison, Diego Costa’s fiery presence up front bears a striking resemblance to that of former Liverpool hero, Luis Suarez. After shelling out £35 million on the forward, Jose Mourinho will be hoping Costa can help his strike force bite back at critics who have condemned their goal scoring abilities in recent seasons.
A menace of pace and power, Costa, much like Suarez, thrives on controversy. Once forced to serve a four-month ban for punching an opposition player and threatening a referee, the striker was renowned in the Spanish Leagues for his short fuse. Costa attributes this belligerent approach to his tough football upbringing. Unlike other stars of Spanish football, such as Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi, Costa’s talents were not honed in an academy but on the streets of Lagarto, a poverty stricken Brazilian city.
Costa moved to Barcelona when he was 14 and only joined his first club, Esportivo Capel, at the age of 16. After his transfer to Atletico Madrid, the striker faced an uphill battle to evolve into the top goalscorer he would eventually become. Injury plagued and loaned out repeatedly by the Madrid side, Costa failed to make an impact. It was only two seasons ago, alongside Radamel Falcao, that the striker’s talents started to be recognised.
In the 2012/13 season Costa scored 20 goals for Atletico in all competitions. People began to take notice after his performance in Atletico’s Copa del Rey final win over Real Madrid. In this game Costa bullied Real’s defenders and scored an important equaliser to establish his team as real challengers to the Spanish duopoly of Barcelona and Real Madrid.
However, it was Costa’s performances last season in Atletico’s title winning side that distinguished him as one of world’s top goalscorers. Playing in an ostensibly counter-attacking team, he scored a remarkable 36 goals in all competitions. This record rivalled some of football’s most celebrated players, with Lionel Messi only notching five more than Costa over the course of the season. Indeed, whilst no Premier League player came close to equalling Luis Suarez’s goal scoring exploits in 2013/14, Costa bettered the Uruguayan’s total by five goals.
After controversially opting to represent Spain rather than the home nation at this summer’s World cup, Costa was unable to make his mark on the competition. As much as the striker will be disappointed by his performances in Brazil, he will relish the challenge of adapting his own playing style to suit the fierce encounters of the Premier League. With Suarez departing for Spain, it is time for another hot-tempered South American to terrorize English defences across the country. Joined in the Chelsea squad by two other of Atletico’s most important players last season, Filipe Luis and Thibaut Courtois, Costa will be hoping to acclimatise early to life in the Premier League.