WAYNE BRIDGE believes Alvaro Morata will not be enough to fill the Costa void despite his storming start to the season.
The former Chelsea full-back hailed the new signing’s goalscoring ability but thinks boss Antonio Conte will need more physicality after Diego Costa’s departure.
Morata, 24, bagged the opener as Blues saw off Atletico Madrid in Wednesday night’s 2-1 Champions League victory after a hat-trick last weekend against Stoke.
And Bridge said: “Morata has obvious quality – he’s quick, he’s running in behind and scoring goals with his head and his feet.
“He’s a totally different player in terms of what Chelsea are used to, with the likes of Didier Drogba and Costa who are big and strong and bullied defenders. With the likes of Fabregas who can slip him in, with the runs that he makes he’s going to get chances.
“I really like him but I expect them to probably sign another centre-forward in January. Not to replace Morata but someone either to work with him or they can change. Someone physically a bit stronger and who wants to bully defenders.”
Costa spent the summer in exile after being told he was no longer part of Conte’s plans by text message and will be an Atletico player when their transfer ban is lifted in January. The striker, 28, watched Wednesday’s game from the stands and hung his head in his hand when sub Michy Batshuayi grabbed the late winner.
And, speaking at the PokerStars Festival in Dublin, Bridge said: “He doesn’t hide his emotions and you’ve got to admire people who are like that because you don’t always see it.
“I think there’s respect at the moment from the Chelsea fans and they’re happy for what he’s done for them. But you could see that he wanted Atletico to go and win because he’s an Atletico player now.
“The whole scenario is difficult and I don’t think anyone’s really going to know the ins and outs of what happened. It’s just a pity the way it did happen and Chelsea are obviously going to miss him because of the goals that he scored and the Premier League is going to miss him because he’s a character. Something will always happen in a game he’s playing in.
“He used to wind players up and there was always some controversy around him. He was entertaining to watch.”
Former England defender Bridge, 37, joined Manchester City in 2009 after over 100 Chelsea appearances but will not rule out Conte securing back-to-back titles this season.
He added: “City are obviously favourites and are playing such good attacking football but Chelsea are going to be there. They will get better, they will make signings in January and Conte could end up doing it again.
“Chelsea show people what they’re about. People wrote them off a bit at the beginning of the season after one loss and I thought that was a bit much. Atletico was a statement and they’ll be looking to make another one against City.
“It’s a massive game for Chelsea and City but I think Chelsea have a bit more pressure on them because if they lose this game they’re six points behind. But big teams and big players thrive under pressure.”
Bridge won all the domestic honours at Chelsea and picked out another back-to-back Premier League winner, ex-Leicester City midfielder N’Golo Kante, for special praise, saying he reminds him of former team-mate Claude Makélélé. Ex-France and Blues defensive midfielder Makélélé is considered one of the greatest players ever in his position.
And Bridge said: “Kante is just like having another Makélélé back. He won player of the year and has made a massive difference in terms of a defensive midfielder, the way he gets around the pitch tackling.
“They had Matic who could sit a little bit for them but Kante is a totally different player.
“He reminds me of Makélélé so much when we did so well with him at Chelsea. He’s great for the team and he’s one of my favourite Chelsea players at the moment.”
Bridge, who hung up his boots three years ago, is doing punditry work alongside playing poker but is also eyeing up a move into coaching after missing the game.
He said: “I’m going to start doing my badges. I’ve been taking more of an interest in football over the past six months.
“Before I started playing I was a big football fan and used to go to see games all the time.
“But once I started playing I gradually started stepping away from it and would go to see friends and family after games instead of watching and talking about football.
“So I didn’t miss football much in the beginning when I retired but after one to two years I missed it.
“With coaching I think I’d enjoy being part of the dressing room again so I’ll have to see what happens.”
Wayne Bridge was taking part in the PokerStars Festival Dublin. For more info on live poker events visit www.pokerstarslive.com