Diego Costa showed Chelsea everything they were missing as he shone when Spain opened their World Cup campaign. Strong, powerful, commanding and a goal scorer.
It’s everything the Blues needed last season as their title defense faltered, and everything they didn’t have.
The decision to sell Diego Costa was one of the worst Chelsea have made in recent memory – and one that could well cost Antonio Conte his job, as not only did it decrease the goal count Chelsea amassed the last term but it also did something else, equally as damaging.
It helped a huge amount of pressure on Alvaro Morata, who was thrust into the starting line-up and expected to provide 30 goals in his debut season across all competitions.
Things could’ve been made easier had Conte shown faith in Michy Batshuyai, but that wasn’t to be, and while the Blues resorted to bringing in Olivier Giroud come January, the damage was done.
Morata suffered from a huge loss of confidence, had injury issues ranging from niggling to serious, and made it very clear his debut season was far from what he’d hoped.
The fans – in part – turned on him, and things became very sour, very quickly.
It could all have been so different, had Conte even kept Costa for six months and then allowed him to leave for Atletico Madrid in January, which would’ve let Morata to bed in, learn from someone and not be the only one the club were looking to.
The arrival of Giroud will have simply been another blow to Morata – a player who is so similar to him and has the same attributes in the air, and who was obviously there to play instead of him.
Social media mocked Morata mercilessly, Chelsea fans noted they need someone far better to lead their line – right now they have a Europa League level player, and that’s where they’ve ended up.
Yet, that’s not quite the case, and to let Morata leave this summer would be an error. Injuries have played a big part in his issues last season, as did the lack of man management shown by Conte – a common theme with a fair few players in the squad.
Morata is made for the Premier League in terms of his stature and love of heading the ball into the back of the net, and it cannot be underestimated how the constant criticism from Conte and the fans over Chelsea’s lack of finishing will have impacted him.
A new manager and possibly another forward – or bringing back Batshuayi, a player with different attributes in comparison with Morata – to share the burden up top could do Morata the world of good.
Chelsea has seen their fair share of flop forwards, but to write off Morata as one of them after a first season that was lacking at times would be a huge error.
Asking a player who had only really been used as a substitute or bit-part player for the majority of his career to move to the Premier League and not only play a huge amount of games, but to also be the focal point of the team in terms of the hopes and dreams of the fans as well was always going to be risky.
The amount of games Chelsea will face next season, especially in the Europa League, means there will be more than enough chances for Morata to get game time – even as the second choice forward – and allow him a real chance to show what he can do.
Chelsea knows all too well that sometimes you can make a judgment on a player too quickly and come back to regret it – and if they cut their losses with Morata this summer, that’s exactly what they’ll be thinking again.