7th October – Diego Costa

Diego Costa has made a fantastic start to life as a Chelsea player and he singlehandedly could make the difference between them competing in competitions to winning the Premier League and the Champions League.

After a disappointing World Cup with Spain a lot of people were worried that he would struggle in England but that couldn’t be further from the truth as he has already proven that he is one of the best strikers in world football. Costa does have to pay tribute to his fellow countryman Cesc Fabregas for setting up a lot of chances for him, but he has still had to put them away which in a lot of Chelsea strikers have failed to do recently.

The 26 year old started his professional career at Portuguese club Braga. But he had to wait until a loan spell at Second Division club Penafiel to make his debut and after five goals in 13 appearances he had impressed enough to be bought by Atletico Madrid in December 2006. But he would remain at Braga until the end of the season. He would only score one goal for Braga but it was an important last minute winner against Parma in the UEFA Cup to give his side a 1-0 win.

In the following two years he had loan spells at Celta Vigo and Albacete, both in the Segunda Division in Spain. At Celta he struggled with only five goals in 31 games but at Albacete he had a better time, scoring 9 times in 35 games. With his parent club still not convinced by the striker they sold him to Valladolid on the 8th July 2009. He started off well, scoring six times in the first 12 games but then he only scored once in the next five months which was a reason why the club got relegated.
Costa Vallodolid
There was a buyback clause in his contract and in June 2010 Costa rejoined Atletico as backup to Diego Forlan and Sergio Aguero. Despite limited playing time he still managed six goals in the league and scored his first hatrick on the 3rd April 2011 in a 3-2 win over Osasuna. At the end of the season it looked like he would be leaving again but a serious knee injury saw a move to Besiktas to collapse. When he recovered he was sent out on loan to Rayo Vallecano for the rest of the season on the 23rd January and got off to another fantastic start by scoring four goals in his first three appearances. This time he managed to keep up a good goalscoring record and ended the campaign with 10 in 16.
Costa Albacete
The 2012-13 season saw Costa become first choice at Atletico and he repaid manager Diego Simeone by scoring some crucial goals, particularly in the Copa Del Rey. Atletico went on to win the trophy and Costa finished the tournament as the top scorer but it was in the following season that he became well known outside of Spain.

Atletico surprised a lot of people by winning La Liga and reaching the final of the Champions League and this was largely down to a solid defence and the goals of Costa. His 36 goals in all competitions was a fantastic return for a striker that had been wrote off several times already in his career and convinced Chelsea to pay £32 million for his services.
Costa AM
He could not have got off to a better start with him winning the Player of the Month in August and hitting nine goals, including a hatrick against Swansea City, in the first seven Premier League games as Chelsea lead the table and look like the team to beat this season.

The final word can go to the Premier League’s highest ever scorer Alan Shearer. “Everything impressed me about Diego Costa, he is tailor made for the Premier League. The way he runs the line, in behind and can hold the ball up. He is going to love the Premier League and the Chelsea fans will love him. When it is not going for them they have a goalscorer who can get them out of it.”

Advertisements

9th September – Alex Song

West Ham pulled off what could be the signing of the summer when they loaned defensive midfielder Alex Song from Barcelona and he will certainly add a lot to the team.

Although he is more known for his tough tackling and strength, what is underrated is his passing ability and being able to spot a pass from a deep lying position. It is not surprising that Robin Van Persie and Song had a very good partnership at Arsenal and the striker profited from Song’s vision and Van Persie knew if he made a run then Song could find him. But at West Ham he will definitely be loved and could play a part in getting them a top half finish.

Song began his career at French club Bastia and in the 2003-04 season he became a part of their first team, playing both at centre back and holding midfield and made 34 appearances in all competitions. After his impressive rise he was being linked with a lot of clubs around Europe and it was Arsene Wenger who decided to sign him, initially on a season long loan.
Song Bastia
He made his Arsenal debut in a 2-0 win over Everton on the 19th September 2005. He only played a further eight times over the course of the season but he did enough to convince Wenger to sign him permanently in June 2006. During the 2006-07 season he scored his first goal in a 6-3 win over Liverpool in the League Cup. For the second half of the season he was loaned out to Charlton Athletic and although he performed brilliantly in his 12 games he could not help them avoid relegation.

After returning to Arsenal he still could not become a first team regular, and whenever he did play he was mostly used as a centre back. Finally his breakthrough came in 2008-09 season as he quickly became an important member of the team, forming a great partnership with Cesc Fabregas in the centre of midfield. He played 48 times in all competitions and scored his first Champions League goal against Fenerbahce and then his first league goal against Wigan Athletic.

His career blossomed from there and was rarely left out of the Arsenal team when he was fit. He will also go down in history for scoring the 1000th Arsenal Premier League goal under Arsene Wenger in a 4-1 win over Bolton Wanderers on the 11th September 2010.
Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Arsenal v Everton - Emirates Stadium
Fabregas departed Arsenal in the following summer and many wonder where their creativity was now going to come from and it was Song that stepped up the most. In his 34 Premier League games he assisted 11 goals, with many of these falling onto the left foot of Robin Van Persie. After 217 appearances for Arsenal he was signed by Barcelona for £15 million on the 20th August 2010.
Song Barca
In his first season he helped the club win La Liga but he did not get enough game time over the two seasons he spent at the club, appearing just 65 times and it was not a surprise to anyone that he was leaving the Spanish giants this summer, however not many expected him to join West Ham.

The final word can go to Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. “Song wants to get forward. Sometimes defensive midfielders just want to defend. It’s not just his main role. He does it well in fairness. Song has improved his engine. He doesn’t need a breather now when he goes and comes back.”

23rd June – Patrick Vieira

With three Premier League winners medals and another four Serie A title to his name, Patrick Vieira has certainly had a career to remember and now at the age of 38 he is happy leading Manchester City’s reserve team.

The midfielder dominated most players that came up against him and he had some of the best battles ever seen in the Premier League whenever he stepped on the pitch against Roy Keane and is considered one of the greatest rivalries of the last 20 years.

Vieira was always destined for greatness it seemed and had leadership qualities from a young age after he began his career at French club Cannes, making his debut at the age of just 17 and then captaining the side just two years later. After 49 league appearances for the club, a lot of the bigger European teams were looking to sign him and he eventually went to Milan. However, it was not easy for him and he only played twice in the league before joining Arsenal in August 1996.
Vieira Cannnes
He made his debut as a substitute against Sheffield Wednesday and then made his full debut three days later against Middlesbrough. His performances quickly made him a favourite among the fans and also his own players who could see the quality that he was bringing to the side and something different that they were previously lacking. He finished his first season with 38 appearances in all competitions but it would be the next year that really kick started his career.

Alongside Emmanuel Petit there was arguably no better central midfield partnership in the league as they were both instrumental in winning both the Premier League and the FA Cup. Vieira scored his first goal of the season in an important victory over Manchester United and although he started picking up a lot of bookings and red cards in the middle part of the season, when he was really needed he was there and towards the end of the season he only picked up one more booking.

However, over the next few seasons Arsenal struggled to win trophies and this was not helped by Vieira’s poor disciplinary problems and at the start of the 2000-01 season he was sent off twice in the space of 72 hours. Although he scored twice against Charlton Athletic in his next match, there was a lot of speculation he was about to leave the club, however he decided to stay.
Vieira Arsenal
Success finally returned for both club and player in the 2001-02 season after they once again won the League and FA Cup double and at the end of the season Vieira was named the new Arsenal captain after Tony Adams left the club. After being handed the armband his performances got even better and was one of the key players in the ‘Invincible’ team of the 2003-04. His next taste of success would be the FA Cup in 2005 where with his final touch for the club he scored the winning penalty against Manchester United after the game had finished 0-0.

In July 2005 Vieira signed for Juventus and made his debut against Chievo. Although he helped the club win Serie A, it was later stripped from them because of the match fixing scandal but the defining moment of his time was when he came up against Arsenal and a young Cesc Fabregas who had replaced him in the team in the Champions League. Arsenal went on to win the tie and send Juventus out and this must have been tough for Vieira to take.

After Juventus were relegated to Serie B, Vieira left to join Inter Milan and helped the club to win the next three Serie A titles. However, towards the end of his time at the club he began to feature less and was on the move in the January transfer window of 2010.
Vieira Inter
The French man returned to England and joined up with his former Inter manager Roberto Mancini at Manchester City. He didn’t get off to a great start though as on his debut they lost to Hull City. Three days later he made his full debut in a 2-0 win over Bolton Wanderers and set up the first goal for Emmanuel Adebayor and went on to score his first goal later in the season against Burnley in a 6-1 win and his performances convinced the manager enough to give him a new one year contract. In his final season he was very influential in the club’s FA Cup success as he scored three times in the competition. He retired soon after and ended his career with 651 club appearances and 58 goals.

The final word can go to Roberto Mancini. “Patrick is a world class midfielder with a winner’s mentality and will fit into this group very well. Patrick is one of the great players of his era with almost every honour in the game against his name.”