Plenty of well-earned praise for Diego Costa these days, from his teammates and coaches to fans and pundits alike. The man's scoring goals, occupying defenders, creating space for others, leading by example, leading by passion and effort, staying out of trouble ... what more could you ask for? We were once told that he simply couldn't operate without the necessary sideshows and provocations. Turns out, he very much can!
One man who's seen this all before — twice nonetheless! — is goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who played alongside Costa at Atlético Madrid when they won their unlikely La Liga crown in 2013-14. Courtois and Costa then staked Chelsea to a title in 2014-15 before both falling on harsher times last season. But now they're both happy and back to their best, as Courtois commented in his post-match interview.
"It's hard to say [if Diego's ever played better]. I remember the year we were champions with Atlético, Diego was very strong. I remember the year we were champions with Chelsea, he was very strong as well. But this season so far, he's scoring very important goals. He's really strong as well on the ball, he dribbles defenders like it's nothing. He's very strong at the moment and we can only enjoy it and use him as our strength."
"Maybe he is happier than last season, but nobody was happy last year. It was a rough time for the whole team. [...] From January-February on, Diego's scored a lot of goals. He's carried that form into this season. When you win, you score goals, and you're top of the league, everyone's happy."
Diego himself declared that this is not his final form by any means. Always improve, as the Conte mantra goes.