They say you should never go back, but football always defies conventional logic. The sport has been littered with players and Coaches returning to their previous clubs, and at Diego Costa could be the next one.
The fiery, Brazilian-born Spaniard is currently in limbo, having been ostracised by Antonio Conte at Chelsea – allegedly via text message. There are persistent rumours linking him with a return to the Spanish capital, where he won La Liga before moving to Stamford Bridge.
Although Atleti are currently serving a ban on registering new players, it’s a deal that could be mutually convenient for both parties. Costa gets to return to a place where he feels most at home, while Los Colchoneros would be able to sign an international striker for – in this climate – a reasonable fee. A 10bet free bet on Costa returning, and succeeding, would surely be well placed.
Los Rojiblancos would also be in a strong bargaining position. It’s clear that Chelsea don’t want the 28-year-old, while he has also been pictured on holiday dressed in the red and white of his previous employers. Furthermore, he will want to give himself the best chance of not only establishing himself as Spain’s first-choice striker at the World Cup next summer but also go some way towards making amends for his disappointing campaign four years ago.
In turn, Atleti bag themselves a much-needed, prolific goalscorer, who knows the club and will fit straight in. This is even more important, bearing in mind that Costa can’t be registered to play until January. A No 9 like him could also be the difference between success or failure, or the missing piece of the jigsaw that nudges Diego Simeone’s side over the finish line.
But equally, and perhaps what is telling, for a player of Costa’s calibre, there isn't exactly a glut of Europe’s elite clubs beating his door down. It seems strange, given the attacker registered a healthy return of 20 League goals last season as Chelsea won the Premier League - his second English title in three years.
Despite it being silly season, as the biggest clubs around the globe like to flaunt their wealth in the annual summer scramble, strikers of the forward’s pedigree rarely become market opportunities. It’s clear something is putting other sides off making a move, and Atleti could be using this to their advantage, delaying a transfer – in the knowledge that he can’t play until January – to try driving the price down further.
The other question of course is: what will Atleti do with him for the first half of the season, should he sign? Costa needs to play, and having him idle for four months would be to no-one’s advantage. Loans to Milan or Besiktas are the two likeliest solutions – and most sensible – as he would get games under his belt, playing in a competitive competitions such as Serie A and the Champions League and for teams with big prospects. That way, Los Rojiblancos get to keep him sharp and fit, as well as ready to go when he joins in January.
Therefore, despite the saying that you should never go back, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Costa turning out for Atleti again next season. A return makes total sense for both parties.