Sunday 23 October 2016

Chelsea give Costa time to heal his mind as well as body

Matt Law

Published 02/06/2015 | 02:30

An energetic Diego Costa during Chelsea’s training session in Sydney yesterday ahead of their friendly against the local team
An energetic Diego Costa during Chelsea’s training session in Sydney yesterday ahead of their friendly against the local team

Chelsea will give Diego Costa time to rest his mind, as well as his body, this summer in a bid to help the striker return for next season in the best possible shape.

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Costa enjoyed a superb first season on the pitch, scoring 20 Premier League goals to help Chelsea to the title, but his adjustment to life in England has not been quite so smooth.

While Chelsea have shrugged off reports in Spain that Costa is unhappy in England and will reject any attempt by Atletico Madrid to re-sign him, there is a recognition that the settling-in process is far from over for the 26-year-old.

Having moved from Spain for £32m last summer, Costa split up with his girlfriend and has struggled to make any serious progress in his attempts to learn English.

The language barrier has been exacerbated by Costa's injury problems, which have given him extra time to make trips back to Spain and have friends and family join him in England.

Costa is understood to have become deeply frustrated by his recurring hamstring problems that date all the way back to last year's Champions League final with Atletico.


Understandably, the Spain international is thought to have lost some confidence in his body and is desperate to find a solution to the injuries sooner, rather than later.

Chelsea's medical department are hopeful that Costa will not need any surgery and believe he needs to work on making the hamstrings more elastic and strengthen the surrounding muscles.

But there is also a feeling within Chelsea that Costa will mentally benefit from a rest, having effectively battled against hamstring problems for a full year, including at last summer's World Cup.

Like all players, Costa will be given a summer fitness plan to undertake but it is hoped that by switching off mentally for a month he will return for pre-season training in a more positive frame of mind.

Despite suffering injury and language difficulties, Costa is believed to be happy at Chelsea and enjoys attempting to catch his team-mates out with practical jokes.

Costa travelled with the Chelsea squad for the post-season games in Bangkok and Sydney, but only lasted 25 minutes as a second-half substitute against a Thai All-Stars team.

Manager Jose Mourinho hinted that Costa needs to rest his mind, as well as his body, by saying: "Diego was feeling tired, so we had to protect him."

Chelsea are in talks over the possible signing of Radamel Falcao, but the striker will have to take a big cut in wages and accept he will be second choice behind Costa for a deal to be agreed. Costa seems certain to lose one of his close friends, Filipe Luis, who moved to Chelsea from Atletico with Costa 12 months ago.

Atletico are interested in re-signing left-back Luis and may allow either central defender Miranda or Toby Alderweireld to move in the opposite direction. Miranda is well liked by Mourinho and the 30-year-old would give the Blues experienced options in the centre of defence.

Aware of Chelsea's interest in the Brazilian, Atletico are yet to tell Belgian Alderweireld whether or not he will be allowed to leave.

Alderweireld, who impressed during a season-long loan at Southampton this season, would offer Mourinho more options as he can play anywhere across the defence and also as a midfielder. He is wanted permanently by the Saints and also by Tottenham.

As was the case last summer, Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia is in close contact with Atletico over transfers.

Mourinho is hopeful of signing Antoine Griezmann, with the Spaniards powerless to stop him leaving if his £43m release clause is met.

Atletico are prepared to hand Griezmann a lucrative new contract to increase the clause, but appear to be preparing for the fact the 24-year-old could join Chelsea as they eye a potential move for Marco Reus.

Meanwhile, Derby County have appointed Paul Clement as their new head coach on a three-year deal, following the sacking last week of former England manager Steve McClaren. Clement left his role as assistant at Real Madrid last Friday after Carlo Ancelotti's departure.

The Englishman, 43, worked with Ancelotti at Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain before the duo moved to the Spanish capital in 2013. He has also served as Chelsea's academy coach and was briefly assistant head coach at Blackburn Rovers four years ago.

Brentford have appointed Dutchman Marinus Dijkhuizen to replace head coach Mark Warburton. Warburton left Griffin Park, despite leading the Bees to the Championship play-offs following promotion in 2014 from League One.

Dijkhuizen, 43, who has been in charge at Eredivisie side Excelsior since January 2014, will be assisted by Roy Hendriksen and will work under directors of football Rasmus Ankersen and Phil Giles. Dijkhuizen's experience of British football extends to a loan spell at Dunfermline as a player in 2000-01. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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