Arsenal are reportedly lining up a January offer for Diego Costa, but would Jose Mourinho be able to resist a bid of his own?
It is no secret that the Gunners are in a good position to finally end their trophy drought this season, yet it is also clear their lack of options in attack could be their undoing. Olivier Giroud has performed admirably this season, with nine goals in all competitions, but back-up for the Frenchman is thin on the ground to such an extent that even Nicklas Bendtner has had to dust down his boots.
According to a number of sources in the British media this week, Arsene Wenger is prepared to pay as much as £32million to land Costa when the window reopens. The 25-year-old is amongst the best strikers on the planet this season, having scored 17 La Liga goals in 16 appearances for Atletico Madrid, whilst he has also proved his quality in the UEFA Champions League with four from three.
Yet if the Gunners do make a move for his services, would Mourinho be able to resist rivaling them for his signature? The Chelsea coach has bemoaned the lack of firepower his side currently boast, with Demba Ba, Samuel Eto’o and £50million Fernando Torres scoring a miserable five league goals between them.
Roman Abramovich is likely to provide funds for the Portuguese coach in the New Year, as the Stamford Bridge side, just two points behind their London rivals, are well placed to win a first league title since 2010. And should it become clear Costa is available, it is unlikely Mourinho would be happy to see him join their rivals.
It was a similar story in the summer window when, backed with the millions they banked from Gareth Bale’s bumper move to Real Madrid, Tottenham Hotspur were closing on a deal for Willian. It looked for all the world the playmaker was heading to White Hart Lane, before Mourinho stepped in with a bid of £32million.
Whilst he could well do the same with Costa, the situation will be altogether different, as will be for any hopes Arsenal have of signing the striker. For starters, the Brazilian-born ace is cup-tied for Europe, and Atletico face Milan in the quarter-final when the Champions League resumes. And Los Rojiblancos are chasing a first league title since 1996, so would he be willing to leave the club in mid-season?
Costa is also under contract at the Vicente Calderon until 2018, having signed fresh terms in August of this year. He has ambitions to play for Spain at the World Cup Finals, and realistically, his best chance to achieve this would be to remain in his adopted country rather than risk settling early in England.
So, all in all, it is unlikely that Costa will be appearing in the Premier League anytime soon. But if Wenger does meet the minimum release clause of £32million and manages to persuade him to take a chance in England, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the player also receives a call from another capital club at the same time.