David McGeady

David McGeady

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Forget about Costa: Six games and Morata is already killing it!

Replacing Diego Costa shouldn’t have been so easy but Alvaro Morata has already consigned Chelsea’s former hero to history. 

Just a day after it had been confirmed that the Blues had agreed a fee with Atletico Madrid for Costa, Morata was involved in his sixth, seventh and eighth goals for Chelsea since joining from Real Madrid during the summer.

Chelsea 9/2 to win Premier League

The 24-year-old was sensational against Stoke City on Saturday, taking a perfect touch in the box from a long pass from Cesar Azpilicueta before lofting the ball over Jack Butland to make it 1-0 to the visitors.

Manager Antonio Conte said Morata “feels the goal in every moment” and it was his positioning that gave him the edge over a makeshift Stoke City defence for the opener but his three goals displayed different skill-sets, with his second showcasing his blistering pace and under-rated dribbling ability.

His predatory instincts were on display when completed his hat-trick by finishing off a beautiful team move in which Azpilicueta set Morata up for the fourth time this season by chesting the ball into his fellow Spaniard’s path, thus leaving the No.9 with a tap-in.

Alvaro Morata Chelsea

It meant that Morata equalled Costa’s club-record of being involved in eight goals in his first six Premier League appearances for Chelsea, as the former Juventus striker has already struck six times since arriving in England, as well as notching two assists.

Of course, matching Costa’s impact at Chelsea will not be easy. The 28-year-old won more points than any other player with his goals during last season’s title triumph. He was the Blues’ powerhouse up front, turning defeats and draws into victories through sheer force of nature.

However, Morata is already proving just as influential – albeit in a different way – with the added bonus that he is four years younger than Costa. Indeed, as Conte pointed out, the hungry Morata is only going to get better.

“Morata is already a really good striker but I think he can improve a lot,” the Italian stated. “Despite being a young player, he has played with Real Madrid and Juventus, and in his career he has won a lot.

“We are trying to work very hard with him, to adapt himself in our style of football, our idea. But, for me, the striker is very important and he is a good guy who wants to improve a lot. He wants to become one of the best.”

Morata wasn’t the only Spaniard to shine at Stoke, though. Pedro scored Chelsea’s second and Azpilicueta was outstanding during a win that proved the Blues showed that they have the quality all over the pitch to fight off the Manchester clubs and retain their Premier League crown.

Alvaro Morata Chelsea Stats PS

Of course, many initially doubted whether Morata was good enough to lead the line for Antonio Conte’s side. As he himself said of the critics after the shootout loss to Arsenal in the season-opening Community Shield clash with Arsenal, “I’ve only had two friendlies, 15 minutes officially and a missed penalty, and they’re already killing me.”

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However, Chelsea legend Frank Lampard was one of the few impressed by what he saw of Morata during those early days.

“Diego Costa is not easy to replace and I don’t think you can replace him with someone exactly in his mould,” the former England international told Goal . “But, in Morata, I think they have a young player with great movement.”

Indeed, despite the sale of Costa, Chelsea are still clearly in possession of a No.9 capable of firing them to another title triumph. Just six games into the new season, and Morata is already killing it.

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Gnagnon explains decision to snub Premier League champions Chelsea

Joris Gnagnon turned down the opportunity to join Chelsea over the summer as he feared a lack of game time would stunt his development.

The 20-year-old Rennes defender has emerged as one of the most highly sought-after talents in French football.

12/5 for Chelsea and Man City to draw

His potential has been noted by clubs across Europe, with Chelsea and Borussia Dortmund among those to express an interest during the most recent transfer window.

Gnagnon, however, was happy to snub the Premier League champions and Bundesliga heavyweights in favour of furthering himself in his homeland.

He told FootMercato: “It happened very quickly. Two years ago, I was in CFA [French amateur league].

“I played my first season [at Rennes], then the second. I hear we’re talking about Chelsea and many other clubs, for sure it’s very flattering. I was happy.”

Pressed on whether he found it difficult to ignore the advancers from afar, Gnagnon added: “It was really not easy to be honest.

“After that, I had to look the truth in the face, that is, if I went to Chelsea right away, I was not sure I would be playing. You’re going to Dortmund, you’re not sure you’re playing either. Whether I went to the right or left, I was not sure I was playing.

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“I weighed up the pros and cons with my entourage and my agent and we thought that it was better to do one more season at Rennes. It was not easy but we had to make a choice.”

Gnagnon will hope that the next 12 months bring opportunities on a domestic and international stage.

Despite having represented France’s Under-20 side, the youngster has committed himself at senior level to the Ivory Coast.

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Wenger wants FFP to be fixed or completely ditched

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes “something will happen” in the next 12 months to slow rising transfer fees.

The Frenchman had been a supporter of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations before he questioned its value in the wake of Neymar’s world-record €222 million move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain.

Wenger, whose team will host West Brom in the Premier League on Monday, said he expects moves to be made to slow clubs’ spending.

“Something will happen,” he said.

“It is for the first time that politically the German prime minister came out and the president of UEFA came out and I think politically something will happen in the next 12 months to regulate and limit the transfer amount.”

Wenger quote

Wenger said there were two options going forward – either stricter regulations, or none at all.

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“You have to go one of two ways. Regulate it properly, or leave it completely open,” he said.

“But you cannot be in between. That is where we are at the moment. That is only to the advantage of some clubs who can deal with rules in a legal way.

“The regulation has to be stricter and clearer, or open it completely: you can do what you want, provided you can guarantee you have the money to pay.”

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Diego Costa: I have special affection for Chelsea but Atletico is my home

Diego Costa claimed he has a “special affection” for Chelsea after the striker completed a move to Atletico Madrid after a summer of uncertainty. 

After being told by Blues boss Antonio Conte that he was no longer needed at the London club, the combative forward remained AWOL despite no transfer coming through before the end of the window. 

However, after returning to Madrid, the 28-year-old made it clear that he was pleased to have his protracted transfer saga come to an end by returning to the club he left for England in 2014. 

“I’m not going to be ungrateful to Chelsea, where I was also very happy, playing in a team that was great,” the BBC quotes Costa as saying. 

“Atletico is my home.”

Costa is expected to have a medical with Atletico in the coming days but will not be able to play for the side until the new year, with the Spanish club’s transfer ban ends.

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Despite the delay in his playing career, the man who scored 20 league goals for Conte’s side last season made it clear that he would not be harbouring any hard feelings toward his former employers. 

“It’s not the way I wanted to leave, ever,” Costa said.

“I have special affection for the people at Chelsea. I’m not a person who is going to smear the image. They know the person I am.”

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Five times the money! Dembele’s massive Barcelona contract reportedly leaked

The massive contract that Barcelona handed to 20-year-old Ousmane Demebele this summer has reportedly been seen by German outlet Spiegel, and the numbers involved in the deal make it easy to understand why the youngster decided to make the move, and why Borussia Dortmund were willing to sell. 

According to the report, which claims that the outlet received the contract from Football Leaks, the youngster received a contract worth five times what he was earning with the Bundesliga outfit, a whopping €12 million per year, up from the €2.4m he earned per season with BVB. 

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Demebele’s personal deal also reportedly includes the possibility of a €3.3m bonus should the Catalan side win a treble. 

The report also alleges that Dembele cost €105m up front, with the possibility of €40m in add-ons. Among those add-ons is an obligation for the Spanish club to pay €5m when the forward reaches each of 25, 50, 75 and 100 matches played. 

While the numbers are astounding, Demebele’s injury will, at the very least, save Barcelona some money in the short run. With the forward expected to be out until January after tearing his hamstring, it will be difficult for him to reach any of those match numbers before the end of the season. 

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