Monday 23 October 2017

'Streetfighter' Costa promises defenders more of the same

Chelsea's Diego Costa, centre, in action with New York Red Bulls' Karl Ouimette (R) and Tyler Adams (L) as he vows to be ready to “fight hard” again this season
Chelsea's Diego Costa, centre, in action with New York Red Bulls' Karl Ouimette (R) and Tyler Adams (L) as he vows to be ready to “fight hard” again this season

John Percy

Diego Costa is ready to "fight hard" again this season and has vowed that he will not be toning down his physical approach.

Chelsea's Spanish streetfighter is preparing for the forthcoming campaign on a mission to unsettle defenders and making no apologies for the fierce style of play that earned him a three-match ban for violent conduct.

Costa was suspended for standing on Emre Can's ankle during the League Cup semi-final against Liverpool, and he also racked up 10 yellow cards in his first season in the Premier League.

But he proved an integral part of Chelsea's title triumph after his £32m move from Atletico Madrid last July, scoring 20 goals and being described as the player with the "killer instinct" by manager Jose Mourinho.

Costa has defended his on-field behaviour and insisted that cleaning up his act would diminish his game.

"I don't think I have done anything malicious. I've not had a red card so why change anything about the way I am?" he said yesterday.

"If I change in any way, I'm not going to be the same player. It doesn't matter if defenders want to battle with me or not, I will just be trying to do my job as well as I possibly can.

"I've always played this way for all the sides I've been with and I've always scored a lot of goals in this style.

"It is the goals that count for me. Fighting hard, giving everything and working hard on the field you have to combine with the goals you score."

Costa could have challenged for the Golden Boot if he had not suffered with hamstring problems which caused him to miss six weeks towards the end of the campaign.

And despite the summer arrival of Radamel Falcao, there is no disputing that the 26-year-old remains the main man ahead of the new season.

Costa is targeting a second successive title, a challenge for the Champions League and scoring even more goals.

"Of course I know that 20 goals is a decent total but I will be trying to improve upon that figure. I believe that in life you have to keep improving and working hard.

"Let's hope that my goals help us to win some silverware. There's no value in scoring goals and not winning a trophy."

The arrival of Falcao, a former team-mate of Costa's at Atletico, is an intriguing addition by Mourinho and designed to ease the pressure on Chelsea's talisman.

Falcao endured an underwhelming season at Manchester United under Louis van Gaal, scoring only four league goals and appearing to lack the qualities required for the English game.

However, Costa is convinced that the Colombian, who is expected to make his debut in the friendly against Paris St-Germain today in Charlotte, will be fired up to prove a point after his disappointing introduction to the Premier League.

"I think it's good for us that he didn't have the best of seasons as that's why he's now with us. We know that Falcao is a hugely talented player, something which he has shown all over the world," he said. "The only thing he needs is to feel loved and trusted, and he will get both here from the manager, as well as his team-mates."

That Costa feels at home at Chelsea is clear. Earlier this week he attended a kit launch in Harlem, and fully engaged with supporters for selfies.

He clearly thrives on knowing how important he is to Chelsea and has dismissed lingering suggestions that he is unsettled in England.

"I was in Madrid and Spain a long time and I got used to life over there but I'm very happy and content at Chelsea and I hope to be here for a good while yet," he said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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