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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 June 2018

The stats: Why Atletico Madrid would want to bring Diego Costa back from Chelsea

The Spain striker scored more league goals than Antoine Griezmann, Jevin Gameiro and Fernando Torres last season, and was also foule dmore times than the trio combined.

Chelsea want Diego Costa to end his exile, return to London and prove his fitness, according to reports in Britain. Mike Egerton / PA
Chelsea want Diego Costa to end his exile, return to London and prove his fitness, according to reports in Britain. Mike Egerton / PA

While Diego Costa's future remains up in the air, with the Chelsea striker adamant he is happy to remain in Brazil and accrue fines rather than return to train with the reserves, his most likely destination remains Atletico Madrid, despite the club being under a transfer ban.

Should a deal be reached, Costa would not be available for selection to Diego Simeone until January. With 2018 a World Cup year, Costa will have six months to prove to Spain manager Julen Lopetegui he is worth a place in the squad, should they reach Russia.

But all this is based on the premise that Costa, 28, would walk into a team already loaded with quality strikers. Atletico fans breathed a huge sigh of relief when Antoine Griezmann, who had been courted by Manchester United, said he would remain at the club after Fifa imposed a two-window transfer embargo on the Spanish club following multiple breaches on the rules of signing under-age players. Being able to call on the services of Fernando Torres and Kevin Gameiro is always handy, too.

If we examine the stats of each player's contribution to their respective teams in 2016/17 though we see just why Atletico would be happy to welcome Costa back.

Costa, who in three seasons in England has helped Chelsea to win a League Cup and two Premier League trophies, scored 20 league goals last season to aid the West London club's title charge. Compare that with the Atletico trio - Griezmann (16), Gameiro (12) and Torres (8) - and the appeal is obvious.

Costa, who Atletico fans still hold dear after the bulldozing front man helped the club win the Spanish Primera Liga in 2014 ahead of Real Madrid and Barcelona, scored a goal every 154.4 minutes last season, second only to Gameiro (143), with the French forward being mostly used as an impact super-sub last term. But what an impact!

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Costa the punisher can also be Costa the provider, too, laying on seven goals for teammates last season, one shy of Griezmann's tally of eight.

And while Costa is often portrayed not so much as bringing the fight to the opposition but the fight itself, he drew 92 fouls last campaign, winning one penalty in the process. That is more than Griezmann, Torres and Gameiro combined (68), meaning the Brazil-born forward is able to take the hits to give his defenders a breather and get under the skin of his opponents. True to type though, he also conceded more fouls than any of them, too.