Friday, 20 January 2017

Off Field Drama Affecting FPL - Diego Costa

Diego Costa is an extremely emotional and impulsive player and enigmatic personality in the footballing world. This is what makes him a dynamite striker at whatever club he is at, however this impulsive and volatile behaviour leads to misconduct and rash decision making.

In recent weeks (since the January transfer window opened) Costa has expressed very brash behaviour. This came about after being approached for transfer by mega-money club Tianjin Quanjian from the Chinese Super League who have been reported to be willing to pay £80million for Costa’s signature. Due to this speculation Costa has demanded that Chelsea “pay him what he is worth” for him to remain at the club, thus meaning a reopening of his contract negotiations which were reported to be settled. However, Costa wants his wage to be increased from £185,000 per week to around £300,000 per week, which almost doubles what he is being paid at the current time. The question Roman Abramovich must answer is “Is Costa worth it?” having already seen first team players Ramires and Oscar leave the club after being tempted by the Chinese football market.

At the start of the 2014/15 season Abramovich forked out £32million to bring the Spanish international to Stamford Bridge from Atletico Madrid after he had a scintillating season scoring 28 goals in 35 games. This free scoring hasn’t eased up since the switch to London, seeing Costa score 46 goals in 73 league appearances with a 0.63 goal/game ratio, only bettered by Robert Lewandowski 0.79, Luis Suárez 0.88, Gonzalo Higuaín 0.73 and Zlatan Ibrahimović 0.94 over the same period for the number 9 striker role. This is what has prompted the demands made by Costa for a pay rise, as he is one of the top performers in the world for his position. With this goal scoring record, Chelsea can’t afford to lose a player that has been one of the lynch-pins in their recent success, averaging double figure goal tallies in every season so far since moving to Chelsea and also breaking the 20 goal barrier in his first season helping clinch the Premier League title along the way. Costa is number one for shots per game this season in the Chelsea squad (3.1 per game), which also ranks him in the top 4 for shots per game amongst all forwards.

However, having made wage demands, Costa was dropped from the Chelsea squad for their GW21 encounter against Leicester City after refusing to train with the first team squad in the week leading up to the game. The absence of Costa surprisingly didn’t diminish Chelsea’s dominance one bit recording a 3-0 win over the Foxes with Eden Hazard filling in the striking role registering 3 shot assists, 1 goal assist and 33 touches of the ball in the attacking third of the field. This rings to FPL managers ears hearing that Hazard is playing striker having already found the back of the net 11 times to go with 7 assists this season in all competitions from a wide midfield role. With 2.6 shots per 90mins from his regular midfield position, if Hazard were to permanently transition to the highest player up the field, his goal scoring and FPL point hauls could skyrocket even further.

Alternatively, Antonio Conte could and should bring in another striker in the transfer window if Costa were to move for big money. With Michy Batshuayi as the only recognised striker replacement at the club, Conte could opt to bid for either of Real Madrid’s potent front men, Karim Benzema or Álvaro Morata, along with an attempt to re-sign former Chelsea unwanted striker Romelu Lukaku. At the present time, Benzema appears to be the number 1 target to fill in in the role of Costa should a move materialism. With 10 goals in 22 appearances, 2.7 shots per game this season, deceptive speed, great strength with the ball at his feet and an aerial presence, Benzema is a similarly constructed player as Diego Costa and would seamlessly fit into Chelsea’s starting squad and style of play. This could see him flourish in the Premier League, however, a move the England mid-season in unlikely given Madrid’s form this season and his current role at the club.

For the remainder of the Premier league season, look for Diego Costa to remain put at Chelsea and force a move away at seasons end if he doesn’t get the wages he has asked for. However, there could be some emotionally driven matches by Costa until then. This could result in his performances becoming lethargic and his demeanour uninterested, therefore dropping his level of involvement and general playing quality.

As a result, FPL managers may become frustrated with Costa, due to the possibility of being left out of the match day squad again, and also card/suspension trouble. These factors could equate to a decrease in his FPL potency and attacking returns, which may make it hard for FPL managers to justify his £10million+ price tag.

By Luke Scali - (Twitter @LS_Potzi)