Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has conceded that he would have pushed Chelsea for the signing of Diego Costa in 2014 had he known he was leaving Atletico Madrid.
As the Gunners prepare to face the Spaniard on Saturday, they will do so knowing that he has scored twice in just three games against them and has been influential in their downfall on each occasion.
Costa infuriated Arsenal supporters with his role in Gabriel and Per Mertesacker getting sent off in the two clashes last season, and it’s fair to say that the 27-year-old isn’t one of the more liked players across the Premier League.
Nevertheless, that hasn’t put off Wenger, who insists that he would want full commitment from a player like the former Atleti striker, and believes that he’s done better in terms of his temperament so far this season.
Further, he went on to surprisingly reveal that he would have provided fierce competition for Chelsea when they signed Costa for £32m two years ago, but he didn’t think that he would leave the La Liga giants at the time.
“I never thought he would leave Atlético Madrid at the time, I was surprised,” Wenger said, as noted by The Telegraph. “Yes. I like him as a quality striker. Costa is similar to Drogba. I like the qualities of the player. All the rest around is not needed.”
Having missed out on taking him to the Emirates, Wenger will now be tasked with coming up with a plan to negate Costa’s threat and ensure that he isn’t decisive yet again when the two teams meet on Saturday evening.
The French tactician has explained what he believes it will take to keep the Spanish international quiet, but time will tell as to whether or not his players can handle his strength, movement and general threat as Shkodran Mustafi and Laurent Koscielny will be tasked with keeping things tight at the back.
“Be completely cold blooded and just focus on the game and not respond. Just try to negate his [Costa’s] qualities and his game. You need to be committed but by respecting the rules of the game and responding.”