The succession of Didier Drogba was always going to be a tough one. Didier was a menacing focal point of Chelsea’s attack for years, terrorising defenders with intimidating physicality, intelligent attacking and clinical finishing to top it all off. He is undoubtedly Chelsea’s greatest ever centre forward. A dynasty was created.
During his time with the club, the Blues had always struggled to find a player to compete with Drogba for his starting spot or to eventually succeed him. Nicolas Anelka, at his peak was an otherwise lethal forward when played down the middle however, competing with Drogba during his peak proved to an insurmountable challenge and he spent the majority of his Chelsea time slugging it out on the wing. He was however a good back-up, and his most prolific time at Chelsea came when Drogba’s injury allowed him to take up his favoured central role. Subsequent to that he drifted into non-relevance, as a one-man travelling act around the globe. Sturridge and Lukaku were both candidates to rival and the succeed Drogba however, Sturridge suffered from Anelka-syndrome and eventually after 96 games and 24 goals got tired of the ball-scarce region of the wing and moved on, proving prolific for Liverpool in a central position.
Lukaku was a slightly different situation. Unlike others before him, he was never really given a chance at Chelsea. Only mustering 15 appearances and 0 goals, he was eventually off-loaded to Everton. A worse record than the infamous Fernando Torres. To be fair, Torres was the only player to effectively bench Drogba but not due to his own merit. This was always going to be the case as £50 million is too much to spend to keep the bench warm. To the detriment of many-a-manager Torres accumulated 172 games for the Blues. Other players too attempted to make a stake of themselves were Demba Ba and Samuel Eto’o but neither were expected to be long term successors while Drogba plied his trade in Turkey and China. The search for a successor seemed like one that would be a search for an oasis in the desert, perpetually fruitless. That was until Mourinho found Chelsea missing piece in the form of a Brazilian turned Spanish international.
Diego Costa is the embodiment of Jose Mourinho’s management style: aggressive and lethal on the pitch, calm and likeable off the pitch. His antics and confrontations on the pitch can easily be likened to Mourinho’s sideline and press room battles with opposing manager. Costa is a man after Jose’s heart and it seems he’s had it won since day one. He brings what none of the past forwards possessed and what Jose famously wrote on that piece of paper: “BALLS” and importantly: GOALS.
After the 5-0 win against Swansea, football joke accounts were alight with the stat that Costa this season has scored 17 while Fabregas has assisted 15 a large number of which have been to Diego. A key part to Diego settling so well for the Blues has been his ability to form a relationship with Cesc and the rest of the team. As forwards are encouraged more and more to get involved in the build-up play, it has been encouraging to see Costa string together a number of passes. Coming from Atletico means Costa is no stranger to Chelsea’s brand of counter-attacking and he has proven comfortable playing the reactive side of football by dropping relatively deep when needed, only to spring forward with Hazard, Oscar and Willian in tow to capitalise on the transition.
Even when teams are stubborn and refuse to over commit he’s proven home and away against Swansea that he can create space and finish. A natural finisher, all 3 goals in the home fixture were scored from central close range positions. At the Liberty Stadium he produced more of the same with a familiar opening goal for himself coming from a close range Fabregas pass and a predatory pounce to score his second. To add to his well-rounded display he even picked up an assist for good measure.
Costa is the heir Chelsea has been searching for years. The type of player that can help win a team leagues, as he did with Atletico last season. A complete forward, he is deservedly boasting his crown and if he can produce on a regular basis he may create his own legacy at the club and become more than an heir.