Diego Costa — Come Home, Prodigal Son
In a surprising twist that seems fitting for 2020, one of football’s biggest villains, Diego Costa, is now without a home.
Huge news shocked Spanish football just two days before New Year’s Eve. Atlético de Madrid and their notorious striker Diego Costa parted ways. The club’s official statement said the termination was asked by the forward himself due to personal reasons.
The future of the Spaniard’s career is in question now that he is not with a team. He can just hang up his boots at 32 or maybe some random Middle East teams will offer him a huge contract. Maybe a possible return to the country where he won two league titles in three years is in the making.
Ah, England and its Premier League, the most popular football league in the world. Costa conquered the land when he helped Chelsea win two titles back in 2015 and 2017. He even bagged 40 goals in those title-winning seasons, underlining his importance for the Blues.
However, Costa’s return to Stamford Bridge seems improbable. Chelsea already have Timo Werner, Olivier Giroud, and Tammy Abraham competing for one regular center-forward spot. But, it doesn’t make his return to the Premier League impossible. There are some clubs that may suit the supervillain at the moment.
People will probably wonder why Leicester would get another old forward. That is understandable, as Leicester still rely on soon-to-be 34 years old Jamie Vardy every week. This season, Vardy has scored 11 goals from only 13 starts. Even though six of them came from penalties, the Leicester talisman is still one of the league’s best in terms of goals per 90 minutes. His tally of 0.82 goals per 90 minutes is the third-best, just under Mohamed Salah and Diogo Jota.
Costa may fit with the Foxes as a second-option striker. This is because Kelechi Ịheanachọ hasn’t been able to solidly perform in that role. This season, the Nigerian has played eight league games yet scored zero goals.
Lucky for Costa, Brendan Rodgers doesn’t need his targetmen to help the Filberts when defending. He prefers his forwards to stay upfront, reserve their energy, and hit the net from inside the opponents’ box. This is in line with Vardy’s average distance when scoring non-penalty goals, only about 12.2 yards per goal. If you’re wondering what’s Diego Costa’s average distance when scoring, it’s eerily similar to Vardy’s with 12.34 yards per goal in Costa’s last four seasons with Atlético.
The fairytale seems to be entering the epilogue right now at Molineux. Wolves are currently ranked 12th in the league, two points behind the newly promoted Leeds United. Their issue lies in the attacking output, as they have only scored 15 league goals this season.
After Matt Doherty’s departure to London last season, Wolves seem to rely heavily only on Raúl Jiménez. Unfortunately, the Mexican suffered a potentially career-ending injury when facing Arsenal in November. Indeed Wolves have landed a promising striker in Fábio Silva from Porto. But, the 18-year-old hasn’t proven his worth yet. Silva has only scored a goal from 11 league appearances so far, and that was from a penalty.
Wolves need a quick fix. Their lack of end-product is so bad that they only averaged 0.07 goals per shot taken this season. That’s the joint fourth-lowest in the league. While Wolves can’t rush Jiménez’s recovery nor wait for Silva’s development, they can look to sign Costa on a short-term contract.
In his last season at Stamford Bridge, Costa averaged 0.18 goals per shot in the league. The Spaniard’s recent numbers are not bad either. He averaged 0.15 goals per shot for Atlético since the beginning of 2017–18. Indeed he only netted 12 times in his second stint for the Madrid-based side. But one thing for sure, Costa is a solid finisher and could help the Wolves boost their goal tally.
Another thing working in Wolverhampton’s favor. Costa’s agent is the famous Jorge Mendes, who has a lot of clients plying their trade at Molineux.
West Bromwich Albion
You didn’t see this one coming, did you? Now close your eyes and imagine this, Sam Allardyce jumping in the dugout while celebrating Costa’s late winner against a top-six side. Twitter will erupt. Shithousery 1–0 football. What a dream, eh?
But honestly, the possibility of this move to happen is more viable than most would think. West Brom is in dire need of a proper target man. None of their players has scored more than two goals this season. Their expected goals tally is currently standing at 9.5. That’s 2.7 fewer than the second-worst, Burnley who is standing at 12.2!
Not all is grim for West Brom as they are very good at drawing fouls. This season they have drawn 178 fouls, the seventh-highest in the league. On average, around 11.7 percent of their shots came from dead-ball situations. Even better, about half of their goals came from set-pieces.
Now, what is Costa good at besides scoring? Obviously, drawing fouls. He drew 92 fouls in his last season with the Blues, just below Wilfried Zaha and Eden Hazard. This particular ability and his above-average finishing surely could help West Brom in the relegation battle.
Some of the ideas above may sound wild, especially the last one. But, most will welcome Costa back in the Premier League. His physical prowess, great eyes for goal, and of course his long-awaited acts of shithousery will only make the league more entertaining. One question remains:
Where are you going, Diego?
All stats are taken on Dec. 30 2020
I’m Petrick Sinuraya, a 23-year-old football writer based in Indonesia.
Currently, I work as a freelance writer at Ronnie Dog Media; mostly writing match analysis pieces for totalfootballanalysis.com. Check my works here: https://totalfootballanalysis.com/author/petrick-sinuraya.
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