After a season of what can’t be described as anything but failure, Chelsea and Jose Mourinho are poaching their way towards success by stripping Atletico Madrid of their best assets, signing Diego Costa and Filipe Luis while also bringing back Thibaut Courtois from his three-year loan.
There seems to be a glass ceiling for teams without a wealthy benefactor to rely on. Atletico Madrid might have won the La Liga title and reached the Champions League final, but their inability to compete with the sums other clubs in Spain and Europe can offer means it’s going to be very difficult for Diego Simeone to repeat last year’s achievement.
Diego Costa is gone for £33.4 million. That actually is a price that they couldn’t say no to, especially after the terrible football we saw from the international striker during the World Cup. Costa obviously fit a lot more into the system at Atleti, but the time to strike is when the Iron is hot, and Costa wouldn’t have turned into a more expensive player than what Chelsea were offering then.
A bigger loss will be Filipe Luis, although the price hasn’t been mentioned yet. Maybe the best left back in Spain last season didn’t get called up to the World Cup by Scholari. Maybe he’s regretting it now. Chelsea aren’t. They had a problem at left back, using Cesar Azpilicueta in that position while Ashley Cole wasn’t getting along too well with Mourinho. Luis brings them some impressive quality and toughness to the defense.
There’s also Thibaut Courtois. The Belgian international wasn’t signed by Chelsea. They already owned him. They simply stopped loaning him to Atletico Madrid. While some teams can bounce back easily from losing key players by signing better ones at a bigger price, it’s not going to be easy for Atletico Madrid to find the same kind of success with the new names. Mario Mandzukic might actually be better than Costa, but it seems like there’s a real drop off in the other positions with Miguel Angel Moya of Malaga and Guilherme Siqueria of Granada.
It’s worth mentioning that players like David Villa and Tiago (although he doesn’t have a team yet) also left the team after playing a big role in the title. Diego returned to Brazil and Jose Sosa went back to Metalist after his loan ended.