The deadline day arrival of Saul Niguez to Chelsea on loan from Atletico Madrid continues a fruitful relationship in the transfer market between the Blues and the La Liga side.
Since 2011 Chelsea have regularly done business with Los Colchoneros, completing a number of deals in buying, loaning and selling from the current Spanish Champions.
Saul is the fourth player to swap red and white for the royal blue in a summer window and will be hoping he fares similar to his predecessors in terms of success at Stamford Bridge.
The trend also appears to be good news for Tuchel as previous players brought in from Atletico have gone onto play parts in title-winning squads in south London.
The 26-year-old midfielder was the final bit of Chelsea’s transfer business in the final hours of the window, completing Thomas Tuchel’s squad ahead of a campaign that looks to see the Champions of Europe compete on five fronts.
With Saul’s arrival, let’s look back at previous noteworthy deals between the two clubs and how they fared.
Likely one of the longest loans in recent history. Chelsea sent Courtois out to join Diego Simeone in his first season back at the club as their new head coach.
During his three seasons in Spain, the Belgian shot-stopper quickly developed into one of Europe’s brightest young keepers under Simeone’s tutelage at Atletico. In his first six La Liga appearances, he kept four clean sheets for Atleti. A strong first season ended with another shutout in the triumphant Europa League final over Athletic Bilbao.
Courtois’s talent was impossible for his parent club to ignore, meaning the 2013/14 season in which Madrid shocked European football by winning La Liga and reaching the Champions League final would be his last out on loan.
Courtois returned to the Blues and took over from club legend Petr Cech as Jose Mourinho’s first choice. Chelsea cruised to a Premier League triumph. Courtois had his strongest season for the club under Antonio Conte where Chelsea again dominated England’s top tier with Courtois commanding his area and making some vital saves on route to winning the title.
Sadly for all of the good Courtois brought on the pitch, his off-field antics to engineer a move to Real Madrid in the summer of 2018 have tarnished his reputation for many Chelsea supporters, despite developing into one of the world’s best in his position.
In the same summer which saw Courtois return to the club, Chelsea bought in the Brazilian left-back to fill the massive void left by Ashley Cole who departed at the end of the previous campaign.
There were high hopes for Luis who had been a key member of Simeone’s brilliant squad that beat Chelsea in the Champions League semi-final. However, despite Luis’s talent, he could not force the versatile Cesar Azpilicueta out of the regular starting lineup. Luis would not be the last player to find the task of displacing the Spaniard a daunting one.
He only made 26 appearances over a title-winning season which also included a League Cup triumph. The high point of Luis’s time was a wonderfully struck free-kick away to Derby County in a 3-1 victory, though his inability to settle in London and lack of game time meant he swiftly eyed a return back to more comfortable settings in Madrid.
Atletico duly obliged and bought Luis back in July 2015 for an undisclosed fee.
Only recently has Luis opened up to his struggles at Chelsea in a brilliant interview with The Guardian. He spoke about his lack of game time under Mourinho and an honest conversation with his new boss early on into the season. Unlike Courtois, there are certainly no bad feelings towards Luis as he was part of a successful season, just regret over a talented player who could have done much more with the club.
What will likely go down as not only the best piece of business between the two clubs but one of Chelsea’s greatest ever signings.
Diego Costa had fired Atleti to their title triumph in 2013/14 and had quickly risen to stardom as one of Europe’s most feared frontmen. It took him under a year to do the same for Chelsea, as his 20-goal haul in the 2014/15 campaign meant the Blues topped the Premier League.
Despite a difficult second year which generally was disastrous for the club, his third and final season under Conte helped him return to his best form with another 20 goals to help Chelsea capture the Premier League crown. In a similar fashion to Courtois, Costa’s exit was sadly tasteless as the forward went on strike after receiving a text from Conte which informed him he wasn’t in the Italian’s plans for moving forward.
Like Luis, Costa eventually returned to Atletico and left a gaping goalscoring hole in Chelsea’s attack to fill. It has taken four years to replace Costa’s presence and ruthlessness with the return of Romelu Lukaku.
Diego was one of a kind but will forever be remembered as one of the club’s greatest strikers.
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Source by Football London