Antonio Conte

Diego Costa and his tainted Chelsea legacy

It seems every transfer these days ends ugly. It is a rare occasion that a player departs a club in 2017 without a flurry of snake emojis being sent to both his personal social media accounts and those of the two clubs involved.

Diego Costa’s transfer to Atletico Madrid from Chelsea has been a personification of the striker involved. Nasty, snarling, and brutal. Fran Guillen’s biography of the forward is titled ‘The Art of War’ for a reason,

Three seasons, that garnered two Premier League titles and a League Cup, summed up in a two-line club statement.

“Chelsea Football Club has today agreed terms with Atletico Madrid for the transfer of Diego Costa.

“The transfer will be subject to the agreement of personal terms and a medical.”

A club statement that says so little but says so much. Chelsea got sick of one of its favourite sons by the end.

Chelsea fans adored their star striker as one of them, or ‘Proper Chels’ as the saying around the fanbase goes. We love him because the opposition hate him. He scored goals, lots of them, which helped and his confrontational gamesmanship got under the skin of anybody and everybody he played against. ‘Diego Costa. The Guv’nor’ read his banner.

Two successful seasons out of three, in which Costa scored 52 goals in 89 league games had him rightly lauded by the Stamford Bridge faithful, even when he was not so. Diego, Diego, Diego was sung despite his public request to quit west London.

It is reported that, on Antonio Conte’s first day at Chelsea, Costa told the Italian that he wanted to return to Spain. Conte decided to stick with Costa as his talisman, to great effect. To Costa’s credit, he carried on as normal and was the Blues’ top scorer last term. His petulance held off, with a wobble in January when China came calling.

It was the summer though when the patience ran out. Chelsea resigned themselves to losing Costa and splashed out a club-record fee for Real Madrid’s Alvaro Morata, who has started brilliantly and already has three goals to his name. They had no choice when Costa went to his native Brazil and never returned.

The relationship between manager and player officially entered petulant teenage level when Conte dumped Costa by text and the absolute final straw was Costa claiming Conte treated him like a criminal.

“They want me there training with the reserves,” Costa told the Daily Mail. “I wouldn’t be allowed access to the first-team dressing room and I would have no contact with the guys. I am not a criminal.

“I don’t think that is fair after all I have done to be treated like that.

“You know the manager doesn’t want me. I am waiting for Chelsea to set me free. I didn’t want to leave. I was happy.”

Conte laughed that off, literally, in his next press conference and had one final snip at his striker: “I can tell you that everyone who works in Chelsea knows what happened’.

In January, Costa will be reunited with Diego Simeone who has christened him his Bestia meaning ‘Beast’.

There was certainly no beauty to be had here.

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Does Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s imminent transfer suit anyone? At all?

After six years, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is set to say his goodbyes to Arsenal in the next few days as the 2017 summer transfer window draws to a close, but who is this move good for, if anyone?

It is remarkable to think that, given he had two years of professional football at then-League One Southampton behind him before signing for the Gunners, that Oxlade-Chamberlain is still only 24 years of age.

Although he will understandably be a bit miffed that Arsene Wenger’s side will be in Europe’s second-tier competition for the first time in 20 years and therefore wants to be back in the Champions League, but at what potential cost for a player, it is fair to say, still in development?

It would appear that Oxlade-Chamberlain now has two options at his disposal after Manchester City’s interest looks to have faded into oblivion, leaving Arsenal’s London rivals Chelsea, and Liverpool.

What is in doubt though, whichever club he chooses, is who is supposed to benefit from ‘The Ox’ signing on the dotted line.

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte changed the face of English football last season when his 3-4-3 system blew away everyone before it and, as the saying goes, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, with seemingly every manager in the Premier League now adopting the formation.

Oxlade-Chamberlain’s current manager, Wenger is no exception, and he has used the original winger as his right wing-back to little success, which most recently culminated in a 4-0 humiliation at Liverpool and the latest calls for the Frenchman’s head.

Regardless, that has not deterred Conte who presumably sees Oxlade-Chamberlain as competition for Victor Moses, but with Moses adapting so surprisingly well to the role compared to his potential rival, will the new man get the football he requires?

It will be even less likely if instead he is considered in the wing-forward/number ten role where Willian, Pedro and Eden Hazard provide a stern enough battle as it is.

Alternatively, Anfield is Oxlade-Chamberlain’s destination. It will mean he will be back in his favoured winger role, but again the amount of options at Liverpool’s disposal will end up in Oxlade-Chamberlain on the fringes, with Moh Salah and Sadio Mane two of the first names on the Reds’ team sheet and Adam Lallana in first reserve.

Granted, none of this may matter to Oxlade-Chamberlain if he gets the Champions League football he so desperately craves in a rotational fashion, however he also has to consider that this is a World Cup year and, even though the Three Lions do not have a wealth of options available, they are still unlikely to take a squad player to Russia next summer.

Maybe he would be better off staying at Arsenal, ironically maybe the only ‘winners’ here, given they will get a reasonable fee for a man out of contract at the end of the season, but that contract stand-off looks to have burned all of his bridges at the Emirates.

Oxlade-Chamberlain has spent his summer trying to get out of a club in crisis, but in doing so he has created one of his own.