viernes, 2 de agosto de 2013

Diego Costa to Liverpool? Thoughts from a Liverpool and Atleti fan

Since moving to Madrid a few years ago I've been a regular at the Calderon and I've adopted los colchoneros as my second team.  Here's my view on the potential transfer.

The Fee

I think Liverpool would be overpaying.  If you were to ask me yesterday to put a value on Costa, I would have said £12-15m, so £21m certainly seems steep.

Would he improve Liverpool's first team?

Yes I believe he would. I think he would be good enough to get in the first eleven and at least offer a very different option to the current players.  Liverpool do not have a forward player of his physicality or playing style.  An added aerial threat, particularly for set pieces would not go amiss either.

Is he a marquee signing?

This is a word that has been bandied about a lot lately, even by Gerrard.  What is a marquee signing exactly? Does the fee Liverpool would pay for Costa make him one? 

From what I understand of the meaning of the term I would say no, he is not. For example I don't think he would be in the top 5 key players at the club if he were to sign.  He would improve the team, but not hugely, not significantly in my opinion.

What position is he?

Atleti often play a 4-4-2 and he plays as one of the two strikers. However, he's more of a forward who drifts wide and deep, so would probably fit in on one of the wide roles of the front 3. If Liverpool were to sign him it'd be a pretty clear signal that Rodgers intends to use Coutinho predominantly as the central playmaker.  Playing Costa in behind Suarez or Sturridge wouldn't really work, as you would probably have to play a 4-4-1-1 and I'm not sure this fits Rodgers style and the wide players Liverpool have. 

Costa most definitely is not a playmaker sort.  He does not have the guile, the technical ability or the vision to play behind the striker in this role.  With Suarez and Sturridge battling it out for the central role, with one of them maybe being forced wide, Costa would almost certainly be signed to play as a wide forward.

Can he make it in the Premier League?

It's been said that he's physical, gives as good as he gets, and this is true.  He won't be bullied out of games by physical defenders.  He will in fact relish this challenge, and he could make it a very difficult afternoons work for those who are up against him.

Maybe something that hasn't been mentioned yet is that he goes down really, really easy.  Probably comically easy for a lot of Premier League fans (in La Liga they would be slightly more forgiving).  A lot of the freekicks he wins are borderline dives and he certainly goes to ground at the slightest contact if he thinks it will benefit the team, yet he tends to get away with it in Spain.

A big question mark over Costa would be whether he would have the same joy in England where referees are far more lenient and prone to let more physical challenges go and let the game flow as much as possible (this is not a stereotype - the stats show that the way the game if reffed in Spain and England differs hugely).

To give you an idea of Diego Costa's freekick winning ability, last season he was fouled (or I should perhaps say 'fouled') 3 times a game on average, the second highest amount in the whole of Spain. The highest for any player in the Premier League? 2.5

Now obviously this should be seen as a positive, as winning frees gives you a potentially dangerous attacking position, or it can buy you some breathing space, get the other player booked and so on.

However I think it's also an indication of how easy he goes down, and I'm not sure how much luck he would have with the refs in England.

Diego Costa was winning a considerable amount more free-kicks than anyone in the whole League last season, and this when he is a big, big lad (188cm and 85kg). When you consider that players who top these stats are usually fast, tricky, slight players it gives you an indication of just how effective he is at winning frees (and/or how easy he goes down).

He often tends to shield the ball, wait for the defender to make some contact from behind, and then fall on top of the ball. And last season the ref inevitably whistled. Even watching from a pro-Atleti perspective, some of the fouls given his way last season were very generous and I would not see many of them given in England.

I would fear that English referees would not be swayed by how easy he goes down, and this is quite a big part of his game and his effectiveness, so this could be an issue.

Either way, if Liverpool are planning on signing Costa, it would be advisable to practice attacking set-pieces because with Costa, Suarez and Aspas Liverpool would have a lot of players who tend to get fouled an awful lot.


It's been said. He's a nutter. Highly aggressive, petulant, win-at-all costs, call it what you want. If signed, Rodergs will really have to reel him in, explain cultural differences, maybe use Suarez as an example of what not to do.

However, it has to be said that with this comes a hard working, battling attitude.  His workrate, his teamwork is excellent and any manager and set of fans would value that.

I think that, like Suarez or Rooney, the good can not be separated from the bad when it comes to his attitude and application on the pitch.  His petulance and aggressiveness are innately attached to his work-rate and desire to win.

Overall, it could be argued that his potential lack of discipline is more than made up for by his positive mental qualities.

I would say that this is a positive more than a negative on the whole, especially if he can be tamed somewhat.

He is a fighter first and foremost, in all the positive and negative meanings of the word.


Overall, I'm surprised Liverpool are in for Costa and also surprised about the fee.

Firstly, I did not expect this to be the profile of the player Rodgers was looking to bring in.  If you had mentioned an Atleti player who I thought could fit in perfectly at Liverpool I would have said Arda Turan, who could link the midfield to the attack in a central attacking-midfield role, while also being able to play out wide to good effect.

Obviously, as mentioned earlier, this targeting of Costa (whether it goes through or not) would be a huge hint that Rodgers sees Coutinho as operating in predominantly a central role next season, and that we are therefore looking to strengthen our wide forward position.  This might give us a clue to future targets if this move breaks down.

Secondly, I think the fee is huge, and on the back of Rodgers' comments recently that suggested we may not see any further major signings, was not expected.  He has not really achieved all that much in his career to warrant a fee usually reserved for some of the very top players in the game.  However, it may be a case that no other target that Rodgers feels will really improve the first team is available and that he is willing to overpay in this instance.

Liverpool certainly wouldn't be the only team to overpay in a window which has seen some staggering fees, and most fans would surely be happier at overpaying and improving the team than not spending at all.

There was a stage last season when a fellow Atleti-supporting friend of mine actually suggested Costa was more important to Atleti than Falcao, and that he offered much more than the goal-poaching Colombian. It's definitely true that Costa is about much more than goals, so don't judge him on his goal stats - he's not a number 9. However, I would fear that Costas' excellent performances at the end of last season were possibly more of a purple patch of good form, where everything was going his way (such as the system the manager was using and how he fit in the team, referee's decisions, confidence) rather than evidence of a truly top class player who can produce that over the course of a whole season in a very competitive league.

Another worry would be that Atleti generally play quite direct and I believe their style is fairly different from Liverpool's - I would wonder about his ability to fit in to Rodgers' possession-based, fluid system. We would have to trust that Rodgers knows what he's doing in this regard.

However, despite these worries, Costa is a player who would improve our team and the bid shows there appears to be intent to spend. These are both positives.  I'm not sure he's the perfect fit, but time will tell.

An improvement to the first team is always welcome and the various possible line-ups we could put out including Costa would certainly not be easy for defenders to face.

Indeed, a possible frontline of Aspas, Suarez and Costa would be a nightmare for defenders and referees alike, and they would all carry a fighting, dedicated, winning attitude on to the pitch, the type of attitude that Rodgers hinted he wanted last season. 

All Stats taken from

Follow me on Twitter: @ErwinMorzadec

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