Appearances: 38 starts (4 as substitute).
Minutes: 3,090 in Premier League; 410 in domestic cups.
Statistics (per 90 minutes, Premier League): 30.07 passes attempted (75% completed); 1.58 successful take ons (41.2% success rate); 2.69 fouls suffered; 0.58 goals (from open play); 0.2 assists; 3.24 shots (1.72 on target).
Diego Costa's career at Chelsea has alternated between stretches of blazing form and periods colder than the North Pole. While he remained an important presence on the pitch even when his goalscoring form faltered, despite two 20-goal seasons in three years, we have yet to see him maintain good form for an entire season.
And now, we probably never will.
The 2016-17 season was no different. In a repeat of his debut year, Diego took the Premier League by storm by scoring 15 goals from August to December, finding the back of the net against the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City to engage in a battle to top the stats charts with Arsenal's Alexis Sánchez, Everton's Romelu Lukaku and Tottenham's Harry Kane. He was also able to pick up some assists as well, ultimately finishing the season with a very respectable 7.
However, once we reached January the goals withered. From the turn of the year until the end of the season, Costa netted only 5 Premier League goals as his colleagues in attack Eden Hazard and Pedro took up the goalscoring burden instead. Costa still had the odd good showing — a hand in three of the four goals scored in the 4-2 win over Southampton, for example — especially as the season wound down. Still, he was much less of a threat than in the first half of the season. Perhaps not coincidentally, as Conte would later reveal, the decision to let Costa go was made and communicated to him back in January.
The goal drought also became an issue in another way, as Diego returned to his old self of picking yellow cards for fun. For the most part of the season, he kept himself in check, collecting only 4 yellow cards in 29 appearances during a 7-month stretch. But starting with the win over Manchester United in the FA Cup on March 13th, he picked up 6 in 13 appearances, while scoring only 4 goals.
Perhaps these facts coupled with Diego's general antics were the last straw for Antonio Conte, forcing the manager to confirm the January decision with his now fateful text message to the Brazilian-Spanish striker at the start of summer holidays.
For the second time in his three years at Stamford Bridge, Diego led our goalscoring effort by recording 20 league goals. Overall, he has 59 goals (and 24 assists) in 120 appearances for the Blues, an almost perfect 1-in-2 ratio, and a total that’s good for 29th all-time, even with Nicolas Anelka (184 app’s) and one behind Salomon Kalou (254 app’s).
The 2-0 loss to José Mourinho and his Manchester United side at Old Trafford was peak bad Costa, with the striker fully concentrated on his off-the-ball antics while giving away or losing the ball a total of 16 times.
When people talk about the sorts of intangible qualities that Chelsea will be losing when Costa does finally, officially leave — and Morata or Batshuayi will have to try to fill — they talk about goals like the winner against Tony Pulis's West Bromwich Albion. A goal born out of pure hustle, strength, desire, snarl, fight, and not least of all, tremendous finishing skill.
When this review was first drafted after our last game of the season, it was intended to be one fully praising Diego for keeping his antics in check for most of the season, shrugging off the rumours of a bad relationship with Antonio Conte, and leading Chelsea from the front to a second title in three years.
Two months later, it’s all gone down in flames, bridges burnt, fields scorched, lines of communication severed. When the lawyers get involved, it’s time to turn out the lights and head on home.
It would be foolish to overlook Costa’s contributions over the past three season, though it could be argued that he only acted in "full capacity" (either through form or fitness) for half of that period. But there is no turning back now.
For our and his own good, we should sell him as soon as possible, thus keeping any hints of discord as far away from the dressing room as possible.
Thanks for the seasonos!
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