Costa backs Falcao to succeed

Chelsea hitman believes his former Atletico team-mate can regain heights as feared striker

LONDON • The "man from beyond the sun" - Diego Costa as described by his Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho - is determined to help his friend and team-mate Radamel Falcao out of the shadows.

Before his difficult period at Manchester United last season, Falcao was a goalscorer of global renown at River Plate, Porto, Atletico Madrid and Monaco.

While many felt that the sun may have set on the Colombian's career at the top level, Costa - who was also his team-mate at Atletico - begs to differ.

The Spanish forward - who had a successful debut with Chelsea last season - argued on Friday that Falcao can recapture the form he showed when he scored a 39-minute hat-trick for Atletico against the Blues at the 2012 European Super Cup.

It was a performance that established his reputation as the best striker in the world. Atletico team-mate Costa watched in admiration as an unused substitute that night. He is looking forward to working closely with Falcao again at Stamford Bridge.

BLESSING IN DISGUISE

It's good for us that he didn't have the best of seasons last year, as that is why he is now with us.

DIEGO COSTA, Chelsea striker, on his new strike mate Radamel Falcao

The Colombian struggled all of last season as he attempted to come back from a cruciate knee ligament injury suffered at Monaco 18 months ago. Having trained with the Colombian for the past two days, however, Costa believes that Falcao is back to his best.

"It's good for us that he didn't have the best of seasons last year, as that is why he is now with us," Costa noted.

"We know that Falcao is a hugely talented player... the manager is very happy to have brought him in and we are all very excited to have him in our squad because he is such a great player.

"I have spent a couple of seasons with Falcao and things went fairly well. I think he'll be fine.

"I suffered an injury similar to his and now I'm fine."

Mourinho is convinced that Falcao is over his injury problems.

The Portuguese attributes the player's indifferent season at Old Trafford to a lack of confidence and also a perception that, as a last-minute signing, he was never truly wanted by Red Devils' manager Louis van Gaal.

Costa paints a picture of a sensitive soul who needs to feel loved, and Falcao will certainly get that from Mourinho.

The manager views Falcao either as a back-up to Costa - a role reversal from their Atletico days - or as a potential strike partner which could give Chelsea an added dimension in the new season.

Costa is determined to improve on last term's tally of 20 league goals but is adamant he will not change his aggressive style of play.

"I don't think I have done anything malicious," he said. "I've not had a red card (for Chelsea), so why change anything about the way I am? I've always played this way and I've always scored a lot of goals."

If Costa and Falcao click again, the reigning champions could soon disappear over the horizon.

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 26, 2015, with the headline 'COSTA BACKS FALCAO TO SUCCEED'. Print Edition | Subscribe