Summer transfer business between Chelsea and Atletico Madrid has long been expected, but the subject of the Blues’ first foray into the Vicente Calderon ranks will come as a surprise to many.
Chelsea are 9/4 to win the Premier League for the fourth time next term under boss Jose Mourinho, who delivered successive titles in his first three-season spell in west London between 2004-07.
Compatriot Tiago Mendes appeared in 34 of Chelsea’s 38 top-flight matches during the Special One’s first campaign in charge, but was moved on to Lyon when Michael Essien made his £25m switch in the opposite direction.
Mourinho later called the sale of Tiago “a big mistake”, but the Blues gaffer looks to be on the verge of making the error right, albeit nine years after the event.
Many football observers – some cynical, some not – have suggested that the 33-year-old is being picked up on a free transfer in order to help Chelsea’s top summer transfer target, Atleti’s Diego Costa, settle into life in England’s capital.
The Brazil-born Spain striker’s 2014 World Cup hangs in the balance, with reports suggesting that Vicente del Bosque has given Costa until June 2nd – four days before the champions open their defence against the Netherlands – to prove his fitness or face being cut from the squad.
Despite the 25-year-old’s hamstring proving dodgy enough for Los Colchoneros chief Diego Simeone to haul him off less than ten minutes into their Champions League final loss against neighbours Real Madrid, Costa is still expected to complete a mega-money move to Chelsea this summer.
Atleti have shown in the recent past that they’re willing to sell star strikers at the right price, having received the thick end of £100m over the last three years from Manchester City and Monaco for Sergio Aguero and Radamel Falcao.
Figures doing the rounds regarding Costa’s mooted move range between £30-40m and with Chelsea set to be flush from David Luiz’s pending £50m PSG switch, expect the final number to reach the top end of that estimate.