It's getting later in the transfer window, and Chelsea have been relatively quiet so far. We still have holes to fill, mostly in the creative midfielder department and on the wings. After missing out on Javier Pastore we inevitably began hearing rumors of the same players we were linked to before the whole saga began, namely Luka Modric, Kaka, and Wesley Sneijder. All of these guys would be excellent players for this club, but all have concerns involving age, price, or long term fit. While I feel Modric would be a great buy at the right price, I'd rather see the club pass on all three of these guys at the amounts being speculated.
I've spent quite a bit of my weekend pondering what exactly the club could do as a fallback for Pastore that would not only fit in the current first team but also as a long term piece. There are guys I've mentioned that love (Gotze and Hazard for example) that would be excellent fits but are highly unlikely to be for sale. These guys are young, uber-talented, positionally versatile, and likely to command less in the way of wages than many alternatives. Ideally we'd find a player that fits into this mold and add him before the deadline passes. So I came up with a list of questions that would describe my perfect target and looked at how guys fit into that mold. One guy in particular seemed to fit all the criteria I was looking for:
Can he play as an attacking midfielder?...✔
Can he play on play on the wing?...✔
Does he fit our youth movement?...✔
Would we be able to fit him under the FA's squad rules fairly easily?...✔
Does he have Champions League experience?...✔
Would he likely be comfortable at Chelsea?...✔
Would he benefit from AVB's style of free flowing play?...✔✔✔✔✔
Is his club willing to sell?...✔
It looks like a guy we should be calling on immediately...after the jump we'll take a look at just who this guy isDouglas Costa is a 20 year old Brazilian who plays primarily as an attacking midfielder. He's often compared to Robinho due to his preferred position just behind the strikers in the attack. He's also quite capable of providing width on the wings, and has been used extensively on the right hand side. He currently plays for Shakhtar Donetsk, a Ukrainian club that made a nice run in the Champions League last season. Arsenal were so impressed they tried do do an exchange deal including Denilson. Shakhtar was unsurprisingly not interested, insisting on cash only (but maybe they'd take actual good players). Shakhtar's manager (Mircea Lucescu) was recently asked about Costa's availability:
However, if I am put in a position to sell, then there’s nothing I can do about it. I won’t keep players who do not want to be here, but Douglas Costa is certainly a great talent.
It sounds like he's a little more available than Luka Modric, and positionally he looks to be a better fit. At 5'8", he's not a big guy at all but he's not small enough to cause worry. He's got world class speed, and he's most noted for being exceptional (that may be understating it) with the ball at his feet and in close quarters. His passing accuracy is still a bit inconsistent, but he sees the pitch very well which makes me believe that will come. He's a bit erratic with his long range shooting, but has shown real flashes in that department. Crosses, free kicks, and corners are three things Costa is noted for providing very well.
Costa is a fairly poor tackler, which does limit him defensively. He covers a bunch of ground , though, and with his vision he's very good at intercepting passes and starting the counter. At 20, there is real hope that playing in the Premier League will see his tackling improve (although Paul Scholes never learned). Here's a trio of little Costa highlight reels for those who've never seen him:
While I'd have loved Pastore, I really like Costa as well. He's a great fit for our current needs, and he's also got the ability to start here for many years to come. He'd also add yet another Brazilian to our increasingly Samba friendly squad, which can only help make us more appealing to South American targets going forward. Please feel free to leave your thoughts on Costa below, and definitely mention other guys you think we should be looking at.
*As a note, I haven't heard anything even mentioning us with Costa...he's simply a guy that I'd be looking at if I was in charge