Transfer Talk: Old foe Diego will not Cost Gunners a fortune
Diego Costa has waved farewell to Brazilian side Atletico Mineiro — and speculation is rife that he could return to the Premier League with Arsenal.
The Gunners are desperate to bring in more firepower to replace outcast Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and are reportedly eyeing a move for Costa, 33, who is available on a free.
Spain's Brazil-born striker won two Premier League titles during a three-and-a-half-year spell with Chelsea before leaving for Atletico Madrid in sour circumstances.
Ahead of the second leg of Arsenal’s Carabao Cup semi-final with Liverpool on Thursday, we look at what he would offer Mikel Arteta’s side.
A short-term fix
Arteta’s falling-out with ex-captain Aubameyang means the North London club are in the market for a new frontman.
But securing top talent in January is no easy task.
Clubs are reluctant to derail their campaigns by allowing players to leave mid-season and that leads to buyers having to pay a premium to secure deals.
Fiorentina striker Dusan Vlahovic is believed to be Arsenal's No1 target but the coveted Serbian appears more likely to wait until the summer for a move.
That makes a short-term fix until the end of the season more likely — and free agent Costa could offer just that.
The striker has terminated his contract with Mineiro, meaning the Gunners will not have to pay a substantial fee to sign him.
Premier League pedigree
With only four months between now and the end of the season, Arsenal need a striker able to hit the ground running.
Sitting just two points off the top four, bringing in a player who knows exactly what it takes to score at Premier League level could make all the difference.
And while it is now four years since Costa last kicked a ball in the English top flight, his record in the division is not to be sniffed at.
In 89 Premier League appearances, Costa scored 52 goals as he finished as Chelsea’s top scorer in their title-winning seasons of 2014-15 and 2016-17.
Whether he can still replicate that form remains to be seen but you will be hard-pressed to find a striker with a better record than his available for nothing this month.
What is more, Costa may feel he still has something to prove in England after being informed by text message by then Chelsea boss Antonio Conte that he was no longer in his plans.
If Costa does join the Gunners, facing his former manager — now in charge of Tottenham — in the North London derby would be right up his street.
A nasty streak
While Arsenal have made improvements with their youthful new-look side, there are still question marks over their durability in the big moments.
They have been almost faultless in games against the 'smaller' teams but their record in high-pressure fixtures against the big hitters still leaves a lot to be desired.
In the five Premier League games they have played against Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool and Manchester United this season, they are yet to pick up a point.
Though their resilient goalless draw in the first leg against Liverpool after going down to 10 men offered encouraging signs, bringing in a player with a wealth of big-game experience would do them no harm.
At his unveiling at Mineiro last summer, Costa revealed the lengths he would go to in order to secure a victory for his team.
He said: "If my mother was on the pitch and I had to beat her to win, I would. I'm going to do everything to win."
Costa has shown on numerous occasions throughout his career that he is happy to play the part of the pantomime villain, often getting the better of Arsenal in that way during his Chelsea days.
The striker was involved in an infamous spat with Gabriel Paulista during a 2-0 victory over Arsenal in September 2015, with the Brazilian defender dismissed despite many feeling Costa should have seen red.
While Costa made himself an unpopular figure with Arsenal fans back then, they will not mind if he starts to use those antics in their favour.
For all the success he has enjoyed on the pitch, Costa's career has not been without controversy.
He was given numerous bans for his questionable actions during his time in England, including a stamp on Liverpool’s Emre Can and appearing to bite Gareth Barry when facing Everton.
There were also reports of a training ground bust-up with team-mate Oscar in 2016, while he was dropped from a matchday squad for a dispute with a Chelsea fitness coach during the 2016-17 campaign.
Arsenal are already dealing with Aubameyang's disciplinary issues, so replacing him with another divisive character may not seem the most logical step.
But with their former skipper set to leave, Alexandre Lacazette out of contract in the summer and Eddie Nketiah not firing on all cylinders, the need for a new centre forward is increasing by the day.
As the January deadline edges closer and first-choice targets become less attainable, Arsenal may be forced to bite the bullet with Costa.