Chelsea close in on £32m signing of striker Diego Costa from Atlético Madrid
Chelsea are confident of completing the £32million signing of Diego Costa after Atlético Madrid’s Champions League final clash against Real Madrid.
The clearest sign that the transfer is reaching the end-game is the fact Marina Granovskaia, the senior adviser to owner Roman Abramovich, is understood to have taken charge of the completion of the deal.
Chelsea have made it clear they are prepared to meet the £32million release clause in striker Costa’s Atlético contract and are willing to pay the 25-year-old £185,000 a week. Over the course of a five-year contract, Costa can earn just over £48million, which would take the entire cost of the transfer to £80million.
Atlético do not want the transfer to be announced before their Champions League final against Madrid rivals Real in Lisbon on May 24 and last night insisted it is yet to be finalised.
Chelsea are desperate to clinch Costa’s signing as early as possible to avoid a repeat of last year’s summer-long and fruitless pursuit of Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney. There is also the danger that competition for Costa would heat up if he enjoyed a successful World Cup with his adopted country Spain.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has made it abundantly clear that the club must sign at least one top-class striker this summer if they are to challenge for trophies next season.
Costa has scored 36 goals in 50 games in all competitions for Atlético this season and faced Chelsea twice in the Champions League. He scored from the penalty spot in the Spanish club’s semi-final second-leg success at Stamford Bridge.
Other than his goalscoring ability, Mourinho is drawn to the warrior-like mentality of Costa.
He started his career at modest Sao Paulo side Barcelona Esportivo Capela, where he was spotted by agent Jorge Mendes, who also represents Mourinho, and moved to Portuguese club SC Braga in 2006.
After first signing for Atlético for £1.2million in 2007, Costa was loaned to Braga, Celta Viga and Albacete before being sold to Real Valladolid. He returned to Atlético in 2010, but suffered a serious knee injury 12 months later and then joined Rayo Vallecano on loan.
Competition has always been fierce for Costa at Atlético. First, Diego Forlán and Sergio Agüero stood in his way, and Costa played a supporting role to Radamel Falcao last season before the Colombian moved to Monaco. Costa has stepped out of Falcao’s shadow to great effect this season to catch the eye of Mourinho and Chelsea.
Meanwhile, Atlético midfielder Jose Sosa believes his side have “the character and strength” to go to Barcelona this weekend, beat their only remaining title rivals and seal their first La Liga triumph since 1996. Atlético lead Barcelona by three points ahead of the winner-takes-all clash and Sosa said: “The whole team is showing that we have the character and the strength for this clash.”