DIEGO COSTA’S future has been uncertain for most of 2017 but could his route out of Stamford Bridge finally be provided by the man who replaced him at Atletico Madrid?
Costa may have scored 22 goals last season but he has found himself frozen out at Chelsea after Antonio Conte was said to have text the Spain international telling him he was no longer part of his plans.
The 28-year-old had made no secret of his desire to move to his former club Atletico but with their transfer ban meaning he wouldn’t have been able to play until January, the Spanish side decided to hold on to Antoine Griezmann and Costa has remained in Brazil, refusing to travel back to the Bridge.
Here our friends at Football Whispers query whether the Chelsea outcast could be used as a make-weight for a deal involving Griezmann once the transfer window reopens in January.
Even before the deadline passed, the Spanish side were urging the striker to end his feud with Chelsea and return to training in London in order to hopefully push through a potential deal this winter.
The situation turned sour after Conte let his feelings and the forward’s position at the club known, then Costa responded by claiming Chelsea were treating him like “a criminal” by demanding an ‘impossible fee.”
This is where a move for Griezmann would make a lot of sense to both parties.
During the summer, the French striker’s release clause jumped up to £183million to ward off any potential buyers.
Although Atletico couldn’t buy and play any new players, if a club had triggered the deal, it would have been up to the player to turn it down – leaving Diego Simeone without his star man and unable to buy a replacement.
Now, as the agreement stands, the fee demanded drops back to £91.5m, which in the current climate feels like a bargain.
Chelsea were holding out for Los Colchoneros to make a £50million offer for Costa, which never materialised.
Throw Costa into any potential deal and you could pick up the 26-year-old Griezmann for a reduced fee while also moving on a big wage earner and more importantly a wantaway player.
Compared to compatriots Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele, even if Chelsea had to pay in excess of £70million and Costa to land the Frenchman, it would still be money well spent in the circumstances with the Blues man desperate to leave and unmotivated.
Chelsea director and hard taskmaster Marina Granovskaia has failed to pull the trigger on a number of moves this summer due to her desire to find value from players, rather than just throw a blank chequebook around. A Griezmann deal would appeal to her business side.
Although very different players, a deal for the former Real Sociedad attacker fits what Chelsea need. They don’t require a like-for-like replacement for the Spanish bruiser, as they already have Alvaro Morata.
The former Real Madrid man can hold the ball up, bring others into the game and play the ‘big-man’ role at Stamford Bridge.
If Conte moves to the 3-5-2 formation that helped him beat Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley, Griezmann would be perfect as the support striker.
The former Manchester United transfer target is excellent at drifting into space and playing off a target-man, similar to what he does so well with Olivier Giroud for France.
However, he could also play as the No.9 if the Italian moved back to 3-4-3 with the likes of Pedro, Willian and Eden Hazard coming off the flanks.
Although, the Belgian wing-wizard would like to see the situation with Costa resolved first.
“Diego and I have been playing together for three years, we have won everything together except for the Champions League,” he told Marca.
“It’s a pleasure to play with him, he’s a top player and a top person. I would like to see him come back, but I don’t make the decisions.”
Either Griezmann or Morata in that role would keep the Chelsea attack very fluid and allow everyone to switch positions, move around the final third and cause maximum disruption.
Ever since emerging onto the international scene before the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Griezmann has improved, transitioning from a wide-man to a centre-forward and emerging as Les Bleus main striker.
For Atletico, he has continued to develop and finished third in the 2016 Ballon d’Or voting. After a slow start to last season he ended up contributing to 38 goals, scoring 26 times for the Spanish side.
When you look at the fees being paid for Mbappe and Dembele, Griezmann is definitely worth what Manchester United paid for one of his close friends, Paul Pogba.
Atleti already want Diego Costa, so you are not losing out, and throw the Spaniard into the deal and pick up Griezmann for around £70million and you are creating a deal that seems too good to miss.