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What is Diego Costa’s Chelsea legacy after three eventful years in the Premier League?

Rob Meech

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Diego Costa

Diego Costa’s controversial Chelsea career is finally set to come to an end. According to The Guardian, the Blues have agreed to sell the striker back to his former club, Atletico Madrid, for £57 million, subject to agreeing personal terms and passing a medical. Costa scored 59 goals from 120 appearances in all competitions for Chelsea, winning the Premier League title on two occasions as well as the League Cup.

His uncompromising style won him few friends but there was no denying his influence and suitability to England’s top-flight. Costa’s relationship with Antonio Conte turned sour this summer when it emerged the Chelsea manager had told the Brazilian-born forward via text message that he was no longer in his plans. Costa pushed for a return to Atletico and was ostracised by Conte, who will no doubt be relieved this saga is now resolved.

What is Costa’s legacy at Chelsea?

Regardless of the negative reputation he had among the wider public, Costa was loved by the majority of Chelsea supporters and played a huge part in their domestic success during his spell at the club. Due to its competitiveness, the Premier League is notoriously difficult to win, so for the Blues to have done so twice in three years – under two different managers – is a remarkable feat. Costa’s goals were fundamental to this. Put simply, the Blues would not have been crowned champions without him. He netted 20 times in each of their title-winning campaigns and made life miserable for defenders.

Costa never strayed too far from controversy though and occasionally crossed the line of acceptable conduct. Infamously, he received a three-match ban in January 2015 for stamping. But the 28-year-old was always at his best when playing on the edge. Take that out of his game and he would definitely not be the same player. Jose Mourinho understood this compromise, but Conte found it harder to accommodate. With his high-intensity style, the Italian needed to know he could rely on each and every one of his players. Ultimately, he could not trust Costa to follow his instructions.

How will Chelsea fare without him?

Conte is a ruthless character and once he had made it clear that Costa’s days at Stamford Bridge were numbered, there was never a way back. The high-profile capture of Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid was confirmation, if it were needed, that their relationship was irreparable and Conte had moved on. The biggest compliment that can be paid to the Spaniard, though, is that Conte signed a replacement very much in his image. Costa had taken to the Premier League like a duck to water, and Morata has very similar attributes. He too, has started in blistering fashion and looks tailor-made for the English game.

After their opening-day blip against Burnley, Chelsea have rediscovered their best form and are unbeaten in four Premier League games. On that score, it doesn’t appear that they are missing Costa. No player is bigger than the club and Conte had obviously grown tired of the Spain international’s antics, however entertaining they were for us, the viewers. Financially, the Blues have made an enormous profit on Costa, having signed him for £32 million just over three years ago.

Can Costa rebuild his career at Atletico?

Costa’s public desire to rejoin the club at which he won the La Liga title in 2014, highlights the affiliation he has with the club. He is perfectly suited to Diego Simeone’s brand of football and he will relish linking up with Antoine Griezmann. Atletico of course, remain under a transfer embargo, which means Costa will not be eligible to play for them until January. But once he is, it will surprise nobody if he is back on the goalscoring trail straight away.

Rob is a freelance writer, specialising in football, who previously worked as a sports journalist at the Dorset Echo. A long-standing AFC Bournemouth supporter, Rob can often be found on the terraces at the Vitality Stadium. Follow him on Twitter - @RobMeech

Atletico Madrid

Rafa Benitez should plot Fernando Torres reunion at Newcastle United

Rafa Benitez should plot a reunion with his former superstar.

Jamie Watts

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Newcastle United are reportedly in the market for new forwards this summer, with Rafa Benitez identifying the Magpies’ attacking output as a key weakness last term, despite their impressive 10th place finish.

The Spaniard is calling for the club to back him in pursuit of a “10 to 15 goals a season” striker this summer, with the likes of Salomon Rondon (Northern Echo) and Bas Dost (Marca) circulating around the Newcastle rumour mill.

However, both would likely break the Magpies current club-record of £16 million – for Michael Owen from Real Madrid in 2005 – and perhaps Benitez would be better served going for a former favourite.

Photo: Getty Images

Fernando Torres is a free-agent having left Atletico Madrid, following last month’s Europa League triumph and Newcastle should offer the 34-year-old a route back to England’s top flight this summer.

Under Benitez’s tutelage at Liverpool, Torres was widely recognised as one of the most formidable forwards in world football, and though his impact has diminished over the years, there’s no doubting the World Cup winner’s quality in front of goal.

Photo: Getty Images

The prospect of an elite level striker arriving at St James’ Park on a free transfer is a no brainier if the player can be convinced and the club should make it happen.

He knows the league inside-out, having made 212 appearances for Chelsea – where he won the Champions League – and with Benitez at Anfield, and he could instantly propel Newcastle’s attack to higher levels.

Becoming a crucial part of a new project on Tyneside would be enticing for Torres, as his unwavering desire and tenacity on a football pitch is something that cannot be questioned. He doesn’t seem the type to move to the States or China in pursuit of one last pay-cheque.

He has all the attributes to become a cult-hero at Newcastle, and the club should act now.

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Will Liverpool regret missing out on Thomas Lemar last summer as Atletico agree deal?

Liverpool’s long-spanning target is set for a move to Spain.

Jamie Watts

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Atletico Madrid are said to have agreed a deal with Monaco to sign French winger Thomas Lemar this summer, according to a statement from the official club website, which will leave a number of Premier League sides feeling disappointed.

The 22-year-old is currently away on international duty ahead of the World Cup, but both clubs are reportedly keen on finalising the transfer before then, according to Sky Sports.

The news will come as a blow to Liverpool, who have closely courted the player for a number of years – notably throughout last season – with reports from the Independent suggesting Lemar had chosen a move to Merseyside over Arsenal in January.

Photo: Getty Images

Jurgen Klopp reportedly made a £55 million bid for the player’s services last summer, but Monaco were unwilling to lose more key members of the team, having already lost Tiemoue Bakayoko to Chelsea, Benjamin Mendy to Manchester City and Kylian Mbappe to Paris Saint-Germain. That meant Lemar and new Reds midfielder Fabinho had to remain at the Stade Louis II for an extra season.

The Reds were expected to revisit their interest in Lemar this summer after the collapse of Nabil Fekir’s highly anticipated switch, as Klopp looks to bolster his attacking options having been reminded that squad depth is a powerful thing in the Champions League final.

Rumours surrounding the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri (Mirror) and Ousmane Dembele (Mirror) suggest Liverpool are still prioritising bringing in high-profile attackers and Lemar certainly belongs in that bracket.

Photo: Getty Images

His best return came a year ago, with the former Caen forward amassing an impressive 14 goals and 17 assists in all competitions, sparking the initial interest from Europe’s elite.

A year on, the Europa League champions appear to have won the race, and Liverpool will have to look elsewhere.

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Newcastle should break club record for Atletico Madrid’s Kevin Gameiro

Newcastle United should break the bank for a marquee striker this summer.

Jamie Watts

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Atletico Madrid striker Kevin Gameiro is looking increasingly likely to leave the Europa League champions this summer, in search of regular game-time, according to reports from Mundo Deportivo.

The French international has spent two seasons in the Spanish capital, but managed as few as 11 La Liga starts this term, often resigned to the bench in favour of the likes of superstar forward Antoine Griezmann and ex-Chelsea talisman Diego Costa.

Newcastle United are reportedly in the market for new forwards this summer, according to the Northern Echo, with Rafa Benitez identifying the Magpies’ attacking output as a key weakness last term, despite their impressive 10th place finish. And they should consider breaking the bank for Gameiro.

Photo: Getty Images

The Magpies have not broken their club transfer record for 13 years after buying Michael Owen from Real Madrid for £16m in 2005, but Benitez thinks that will have to change if they want a “10 or 15 goals a season” striker to lead the line.

And Gameiro would represent a serious marquee signing at St James’ Park, giving fans something to get really excited about for the first time in a while. And given a first team spot he would almost certainly best the numbers mentioned by the Spanish boss.

The club will have to seriously back the move, with the Spanish giants asserting that the 31-year-old will not be sold for any less than the £28 million they paid Sevilla in 2016.

Photo: Getty Images

He would be worth breaking the bank for though, as he has proved himself at the highest level for the likes of Paris Saint-Germain, Sevilla and Lorient – winning an impressive four Europa League titles – while making 13 appearances for the national side since 2010.

Rumours surrounding the likes of Salomon Rondon (Northern Echo) are underwhelming for supporters, as the 28-year-old has failed to bag more than 10 goals in a domestic season, and it’s time to make a serious statement of intent.

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