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.”

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2nd June – Sergio Aguero

Sergio Aguero is one of the best strikers in the world and will be hoping that he can prove it at the World Cup.

The striker has achieved so much in the game and is only just turning 26 today but it is not surprising that he has became one of the best in the world. He made his professional debut for Independiente at the age of just 15 years and 35 days becoming the youngest player to play in the division. He did not play again for seven months but when he did he became the youngest player to play in the Copa Libertadoras. On the 26th November he scored his first goal in a 2-2 against Estudiantes. During the 2005-06 season he became a first team regular and scored 18 times in 36 league games and was being linked with moves the Europe.
Aguero Independiente
On the 30th May he joined Atletico Madrid and Argentina legend Diego Maradona had a lot of praise for the striker. “The fact that people haven’t seen much of him in Europe means he hasn’t got the exposure Messi has had. But Aguero is just as good.”

He didn’t settle straightaway in Spain and only scored six times in his first season but after Fernando Torres left for Liverpool, Aguero became the star man. Still only 19 he finished the season as the third highest goalscorer in La Liga at the end of the year with 19 goals. He scored important goals against Barcelona, Real Madrid, Valencia, Sevilla and Villarreal that helped the club finish fourth and qualify for the Champions League for the first time in over 10 years.

In the next season he continued to get better as his partnership with Diego Forlan was improving and he scored his first Champions League goal in a 3-0 win over PSV. The 2009-10 season was a bit slower for everyone at the club but he managed to score twice against Chelsea in the Champions League. They were knocked out of the competition but won the Europa League with Aguero providing the assists for both goals in the final.
Aguero Atletico
His most successful season was the year after though as he scored 20 league goals and scored in seven consecutive games towards the end of the season. In his final game for the club he scored a hatrick against Mallorca with the second being his 100th for the club in all competitions.

On the 28th July 2011 he joined Manchester City for £38 million and made his debut on the opening day of the season against Swansea City. He came on as a substitute on the 59th minute and scored twice as well as providing a goal for David Silva. On his third start he scored his first hatrick in a 5-1 win over Wigan Athletic. He scored 23 times in his first season but the most important was with the last kick of the season that won the Premier League title for the club.
Aguero MC
The 2012-13 season was more difficult as he suffered an injury early on and it took him till the 29th September to score his first of the season. He went on to score another 11 Premier League goals as the club failed to defend their title but after missing the whole of the next preseason he started the season brilliantly by scoring against Newcastle United and then twice against Manchester United in a 4-1 win. On the 24th November he scored his 9th and 10th goals of the season against Tottenham Hotspur which meant that he now had the best minutes to goal ratio ever in the Premier League. He also scored five times in six league Champions League group games. He missed a lot of the season through injury but ended it with 28 goals in 34 games as well as winning back the Premier League title.

The final word can go to Ossie Ardiles. “He’s very, very quick and clever. He’s very intelligent and can score goals very, very easily. He lives to score goals, he’s a proper centre forward, he always wants to be close to the box.”

19th May – Diego Forlan

Diego Forlan has had a very interesting career that has had plenty of ups and downs but nobody can doubt that he is a special talent.

The Uruguayan international has played over 100 times for his country and at the last World Cup he was one of the best players and received the Golden Ball award as Uruguay reached the semi finals. This just shows how far he has come since once being branded a flop in European football with Manchester United.

He had already attempted to play football in Europe when he was 16 but after months on trial at French club AS Nancy they decided not to sign him and he ended up back in South America with Argentinean side Independiente. He proved his ability at the club and went on to score 36 goals in 77 league games before Middlesbrough had a £6.9 million deal accepted. Forlan travelled to England expecting to sign for them but at the last minute Manchester United matched their bid and he ended up at Old Trafford.
Forlan Man United
Alex Ferguson was very happy with his signing. “He is an exciting player. He has good potential, two good feet, he’s quick and a good header of the ball.” In his first half a season at the club though he struggled and in his 13 appearances he failed to score. He eventually broke his duck in a Champions League game in September in a 5-2 victory over Maccabi Haifa with an 89th minute penalty. He had to wait another month for his first Premier League goal when he scored the equaliser against Aston Villa and he followed this up with the winner against Southampton in the next game. His best moment for the club was to follow soon after as he scored twice against rivals Liverpool in a 2-1 win.

He ended the season with six goals in the league meaning he was only behind Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the club’s scoring charts and this was enough to get him a Premier League winners medal. Many hoped that this would be the start of good things for him but he started the next season by not scoring in his first seven games. He only scored four Premier League goals all season and although he played a few games at the start of the next season he was sold to Villarreal.

It did not take him long to adapt as he scored on his debut against Valencia which was just the start of things to come as he ended the season as the top scorer in La Liga. This includes a run of seven goals in just five games in which he scored twice in a 3-0 win over Barcelona and then went one better later in the season by scoring his first hatrick in Europe on the 22nd May as they drew 3-3 with the eventual champions. They qualified for the Champions League for the first time in their history and they reached the semi finals in the competition, however it was a more difficult season personally for Forlan. But in his final season he recaptured his form and scored 19 goals in 36 games.
Forlan Villarreal
Forlan then joined Atletico Madrid and helped them qualify for the Champions League for the first time in over a decade by scoring 23 times. He improved on this record further in the next season by scoring 32 goals in 33 games including crucial goals against Barcelona, Villarreal and Valencia.

The start of the 2009-10 season was difficult for him and he was left out of the squad on several occasions and was being criticised by the supporters but he turned it round in the second half of the season and performed brilliantly in the later stages of the Europa League. Firstly he scored twice against Liverpool in the semi finals to put his team through on away goals and then scored both goals in the final against Fulham. Once again though the next season was slow for him as he went 12 games without scoring and his time was up in Spain.
Forlan AM
Inter was his next destination and he scored on his debut for the club, however he never really settled in Italy and after just 21 more games and one goal his contract was cancelled. He ended up going back to South America and signed for Internacional where in his second season he helped them win the Campeonato Gaucho as he finished as the top scorer in the competition with nine goals.

After 22 goals in 49 appearances he left for Japanese side Cerezo Osaka and has so far scored eight times in 16 games.

The final word can go to Alex Ferguson who is happy to have seen his career grow. “He has just been fantastic and we’re all proud of him. The only criticism of ourselves was that we sold him too cheaply. He could have been a hero. He was a great lad and a magnificent professional.”

27th April – Walter Pandiani

Uruguayans have been hit and miss in the Premier League, there have been some like Luis Suarez and then others that had a lot of quality but did not quite cut it like Diego Forlan.

Unfortunately ‘El Rifle’ fits more into the second category. Walter Pandiani had two spells at Birmingham City while they were in the Premier League and it seemed like they had signed one of the best finishers in Europe at the time. After playing for Progreso, Basanez and Penarol in his home country he made the move to Spain to play for Deportivo La Coruna. Although he was never a regular starter he had a phenomenal record and scored a lot of goals off the bench. In between the years of 2000 and 2005 he played 86 league games for the club and scored 31 goals including 13 in the 2003-04 season. During his time at the club he went out on loan to Mallorca and scored 13 goals in 33 games for them and was getting a growing reputation of someone that knew where the back of the net was.
Pandiani Depor
After several run ins with Deportivo coach Javier Irureta he made his move to Birmingham City initially on loan. It did not take him long to show off his talents as he scored on his debut in a 2-1 win over Southampton. Manager Steve Bruce said after the game: “Walter Pandiani arrived yesterday with no boots, and he doesn’t speak a word of English, but he’ll give us a lift.” In his next 13 appearances he managed three goals and this led to Birmingham signing him permanently for £3 million.
Pandiani Birmingham
However he failed to show the form of his loan spell and only half a season later he was sold to Espanyol for £1 million. He played 31 times in the league for Birmingham scoring only six goals. His first full season at new club Espanyol was interesting as he only scored seven league goals but this included a first half hatrick away to Real Madrid. Although he struggled domestically everything he touched in the UEFA Cup seemed to go in as he ended the campaign as the top scorer in the competition with 11 goals. The club lost in the final on penalties against Spanish rivals Sevilla.

Pandiani then left the club for Osasuna where he was hardly used in his first season at the club but in his second season he ended it as their top scorer. He played a key role in a victory over Real Madrid in which he was involved in a verbal spat with Cristiano Ronaldo. Pandiani saying about the Portuguese player. “As a footballer he is a phenomenon but to do the things he does, maybe he has a screw loose.”
Pandiani Osasuna
After leaving Osasuna he rejoined Espanyol but this was only for one season which he spent mostly on the bench but he did manage to grab late winner against Getafe and Real Betis. In 2012 he joined Villarreal and on his debut he scored the winning goal and followed this up the next week by scoring the winner again. However these were the only two goals he scored in the league.

At his next club Atletico Baleares he started in a game alongside his son with Pandiani Senior scoring in a 2-1 defeat. In October 2013 they both joined Uruguayan club Miramar Misiones where they still play.

The last word can go to former Birmingham City co owner David Sullivan just after selling the player: “Walter is not a bad player and he did well recently against Manchester United and Chelsea. You’ve got to take your hat off to his commitment towards the club, he scored important goals