Atletico Madrid

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.

PREVIEW: Real Madrid vs Barcelona (Saturday 5pm BST)

Real Madrid welcome old foes Barcelona to Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday evening but will have to play the side who have still not conceded a league goal this season, without Gareth Bale.

The world’s most expensive player will miss the crunch match due to the same muscle injury that saw him sit out Madrid’s 0-3 midweek mauling of Liverpool in the Champions League.

Welsh wizard Bale was also an unused substitute in Real’s last league match at Levante in which the visitors cruised to a 0-5 win.

Carlo Ancelotti has confirmed however that Sergio Ramos will be fit for tomorrow’s derby.

Barcelona meanwhile will be without Thomas Vermaelen, Adriano and Sergio Busquets.

Luis Suarez is expected to feature in his first competitive game for Barca with this weekend marking his long awaited end to a four month ban that started in June for biting Giorgio Chiellini in Uruguay’s World Cup clash against Italy.

His new side did the double over Madrid last season, winning 2-1 at the Nou Camp and overcoming them again at Santiago Bernabeu in a ding dong battle that saw the away side return home with a 3-4 win.

It was a game in which Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick, two of which were penalties while his Ballon d’Or rival Ronaldo scored only once.

La Liga’s Catalan giants have kept clean sheets in all of their eight games this campaign, scoring 22 and only dropping points once so far (a 0-0 draw in Malaga).

Madrid haven’t been shy in front of goal though, notching 25 goals in their eight matches with Cristiano Ronaldo providing 14 of them.

However they already find themselves off the pace in the La Liga title race, having lost two games this season to Atletico Madrid and Real Sociedad.

They are four points behind league leaders Barcelona but Saturday gives them the perfect opportunity to close the gap to just one.

UEFA Champions League Group Stage Draw

Manchester City have been handed a tough draw in this season’s Champions League, being matched up with German Champions Bayern Munich in group E.

The Premier League holders will also have to face a tricky trip to CSKA Moscow and AS Roma.

Bayern Munich, Manchester City and CSKA Moscow were all drawn in the same group last season with Munich finishing first and Manchester City second.

Chelsea meanwhile were paired with Schalke 04 for the second season running and they will be joined in group G by Sporting Lisbon and Maribor, who elimiated Celtic in the last round.

Arsenal have been matched up with Borussia Dortmund again as well as Galatasay and Anderlecht.

Liverpool, in the Champions League for the first time in five years, will re-enter the competition knowing they will have to play holders Real Madrid, Swiss Champions FC Basel and Ludogorets of Bulgaria who make their Champions League bow.

Elsewhere beaten finalists Atletico Madrid have been drawn with Juventus and Barcelona will play PSG in a mouth watering tie.

Draw in full:

Group A: Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Olympiakos, Malmo

Group B: Real Madrid, FC Basel, Liverpool, Ludogorets

Group C: Benfica, Zenit, Bayer Leverkusen, AS Monaco

Group D: Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund, Galatasary, Anderlecht

Group E: Bayern Munich, Manchester City, CSKA Moscow, AS Roma

Group F: Barcelona, PSG, Ajax, APOEL Nicosia

Group G: Chelsea, Schalke 04, Sporting Lisbon, Maribor

Group H: Porto, Shaktar Donetsk, Athletic Bilbao, BATE Borisov