It didn’t take Diego Costa long. 17 minutes into his Premier League Chelsea debut, in fact, to rifle home from close range against Burnley and in turn brush away the yet-to-be-fully-formed mountain of pressure to get off the mark for his new club.
You can understand why there would have been concern. Costa is a 25-year-old striker who has only really hit top form in the last 18 months, first scoring 20 in all competitions before stepping into Radamel Falcao’s boots at the Vicente Calderon to fire Atletico Madrid to the Spanish league title and a place in the Champions League final. Prior to that, he resembled something of a nomadic striker.
Any disquiet wouldn’t have been eased during the World Cup and following Costa’s performances with Spain. But little should have been read into that. Costa was still carrying the knock that saw him miss the majority of the final La Liga game of last season against Barcelona and the Champions League final against Real Madrid.
Added to that, it was clear Vicente Del Bosque’s midfield were not quite on the same page as Costa, having only recently been introduced as Spain’s ‘capture’ from under the noses of his nation of birth Brazil.
Oh, and there’s also that minor issue of Chelsea striking out spectacularly with regards to major centre-forward signings.
But to put it plainly, fans of his new club should have been watching what he did for his last club, and the manner in which he did it.
Early signs are that this battering ram of a centre-forward is well worth the £32 million Chelsea splashed out to secure his services. This is a striker whose numbers were comparable to Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suarez last season. The latter moved from Liverpool to Barcelona for at least double Costa’s fee.
The Brazilian-born Spanish international added his second goal for Chelsea this past weekend against Leicester City at Stamford Bridge, breaking the deadlock with another close range effort. And while there’s a long way to go yet in this chapter of Costa’s career, we’ve seen evidence from Chelsea strikers in the past that those early goals are vital. And of course the small matter of being the right type of forward for this team. To compare: Fernando Torres scored his first league goal 10 games into his Chelsea career.
Such is the nature of Costa’s style that there should have been no concern about adapting to life in English football. He’s a brute; muscle, power, speed, technique. He’s given an early account of his ability to deliver scrappy goals, but if you need an example of the sublime, look no further than his overhead kick last season against Getafe. At 25 (though Eden Hazard humorously has his doubts), this is a striker who can do the lot.
In a market that is quickly becoming saturated with extravagant transfer fees – Suarez, James Rodriguez, Edinson Cavani, Angel Di Maria, and Gareth Bale following the trend set by Cristiano Ronaldo – £32 million is an outstanding piece of business for a striker who very much looks the missing piece to Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea puzzle.
Two early goals; Costa’s suitability for the austerity of English football should see him deliver the goals so severely lacking from Chelsea’s attack and in turn a powerful hit to that apparent curse that has hung over Stamford Bridge and many of its strikers over the past decade.