Diego Costa – ‘El Cholo’

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Updated: September 6, 2014

“El Cholo” is Spanish for “The Beast” and it is the nickname of £32million Chelsea striker Diego Costa. It is a nickname that carries a certain sentiment as his former manager Diego Simeone, who incidentally also goes by the nickname “El Cholo”, gave it to him. Simeone earned the name during his playing days, aptly depicting his tenacity in the centre of midfield. Costa earned it through possessing the warrior-like attitude Simeone aspired. They both share the philosophy “to win at all costs.” For proof just think back to France ’98, England fans may remember it better than others (David Beckham was involved); Simeone won Argentina the game the most sure proof way he knew how, he seized an opportunity. As for Costa, maybe he doesn’t have quite the Machiavellian side to him, but his consummate desire to succeed remains, and such desire, if it isn’t already, will be easily recognisable in the coming months. All he wants to do is win.

Diego Costa has set the Premier League alight during his first three appearances in a Chelsea shirt. He has scored four goals in three games, the first Chelsea player to do so since infamous striker Adrian Mutu, not that we expect him to follow in his footsteps. A slightly more iconic striker, a certain Ivorian, was in mind. Like Didier Drogba, when Costa crosses that white line he turns in to a completely different animal. He has a competitive edge, a desire to succeed, and a personality that differs from the usual player. When Mourinho re-signed Drogba, he said “I like my squad with different qualities, not just as football players but also in terms of personalities. I like to have players with different personalities. So as a player and person, Didier is somebody we need to be strong.” It is the winning-habit of Drogba that will rub off on the other players, especially Costa.

Obviously, Drogba to Drogba is an easy comparison to spot, no prizes there, but ironically Diego Costa looks more like a Didier Drogba of 04/05. He is a nightmare for all defenders, he holds the ball up well, he has extraordinary physical attributes, and he has good movement, always looking to get in front of his man. But most similar is that he scores all types of goals: headers, volleys, long range strikes, one-on-ones, tap ins – whatever it takes to get the ball in the back of the net.

As alluded to in a recent comparison with the successful 04/05 Premiership winning side, of which Didier Drogba was a major part of, Costa has similar physical qualities that Drogba is famed for. He has power in abundance, and like Drogba did for so many years, ‘El Cholo’ looks like he will bully a lot of defenders this season, and bigger defenders than Seamus Coleman at that. Diego Simeone saw a part of his tenacious attitude in Costa, hence the nickname, and if he’d have managed Drogba I’m sure he would have thought the same.

Comparing Drogba and Costa's record at the time of signing for Chelsea

Comparing Drogba and Costa’s record at the time of signing for Chelsea (Note: Goals per Game should read Games per Goal)

Attitude and physical presence are not the only thing Drogba and Costa share, the pair have footballing backgrounds that closely compare. Drogba was something of a late bloomer, only signing his first pro-contract aged 21. Even then it wasn’t till his second, and first injury free, season at Ligue 1 club Guingamp three years later when Drogba really started living up to his potential. His prolific goal scoring record in 02/03 earned him a move to Marseillle. He continued to score in his solitary season there, eventually culminating in a move to West London in the summer of 2004 aged 26, and as they say the rest is history.

Costa has a parallel route to stardom, blighted by injury in his teens and early twenties before finally racking up a healthy goals tally. It was his final two seasons at Atletico Madrid, returning from a season-long loan at Rayo Vallecano, where Costa started to raise eyebrows, much like Drogba. Last season he scored a phenomenal amount of goals, eclipsed only by Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, which rocketed Atletico to upper echelons of World Football; winning La Liga and narrowly losing the Champions League final. The 25 year old’s performances resulted in Chelsea paying the £32 million buyout clause to secure his services, but what legacy will be left behind? If the above comparison is anything to go by, in ten years time Costa might rival Drogba as Chelsea’s greatest ever player.

When Chelsea sign a Striker for a lot of money, skepticism can not be too far away, past experiences have warranted that; Torres: £50 million – flop, Shevchenko: £30 million – flop and even Sutton: £10 million – flop are signings that still haunt Chelsea fans. Yes it’s still early days, but the incredible start Costa has made to his Chelsea career is quickly turning any skepticism in to optimism.

Some people had doubts with Drogba, signing a relatively unproven 26-year-old striker for £24 million forced a wise “judge him when he leaves the club” response from Mourinho. It is true of any striker, or player for that matter, but Mourinho uttered it with a sense of superior knowledge. As he did for Costa, his remarks, as reported by the Mirror, were “He is ready. He doesn’t need a mentor. He is

a made player – an end product, a complete striker. Last season, we lost the title with the defeats at Palace, Stoke, Newcastle and Everton. Will it be a problem for Diego to play at Palace or Stoke? Not at all – I think they will be the matches he will most enjoy.” Didier Drogba was a guy that whether he played away at Aston Villa or at home to Barcelona he gave his all for the team. Likewise Mourinho sees Costa as a man who will provide goals and performances under any circumstances.

Like Drogba, we have already seen Costa score different types of goals, clinical finishing and match winning performances. But additional to that we have seen the passion and desire so closely attached with Drogba. During the Everton match there was one moment that pleased the most; after the Coleman’s own goal made it 3-1, Costa grabbed the ball out of the net, deliberately ran past a distraught Seamus Coleman, who Costa had been tussling with all game, and exclaimed a ferocious and intimidating roar in his direction. It was that moment that I noticed ‘El Cholo’ – Diego Costa “The Beast”.

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