Diego Costa is heading back to Atletico Madrid, with Chelsea confirming the Spain international is to return to the club where he made his name after a three-year spell at Stamford Bridge.
Costa developed into one of the best strikers in European football during his first stint in the Spanish capital, and he is not alone in having emerged while playing with Atleti.
Here we look at a collection of strikers who have flourished during their time with the Rojiblancos.
After initially struggling as Atletico gained promotion back to LaLiga in 2002, Torres soon burst onto the scene in the top flight and established himself as one of the best strikers in Spain, enjoying a 20-goal season in 2003-04. He moved to Liverpool in 2007 and became a star in the Premier League, but a disappointing stint at Chelsea and a failed loan at AC Milan prompted his return to Atletico. He scored his 100th goal for the club in February 2016 but has as yet been unable to add to the Segunda he won with the club, suffering agony in a Champions League final shoot-out defeat to Real Madrid last year.
A flop at Manchester United, Diego Forlan revived his career at Villarreal and continued to succeed at Atletico. He joined the club in 2007 and enjoyed a stunning second season that saw him score 32 league goals. Even better was to follow for the Uruguayan, whose double in the 2010 Europa League final secured a 2-1 win over Fulham.
Is coming hooome, Is coming hooome
— Antoine Griezmann (@AntoGriezmann) September 21, 2017
Before etching his name into Manchester City folklore with that title-winning goal in 2012, Aguero was a fearsome force at Atletico. The Argentina international scored 74 LaLiga goals in five seasons following a switch from Independiente and lifted the Europa League trophy along with strike partner Forlan.
He recaptured some of his best form last season at Monaco, but Falcao has never quite been the same player he was during his two-year stint at Atletico. His opening campaign saw ‘El Tigre’ score 36 goals in all competitions and deliver further Europa League glory for the club. Falcao won the UEFA Super Cup and the Copa del Rey the following season before an extended period of struggles at Monaco, Manchester United and Chelsea, which ended with him firing the former to Ligue 1 glory.
Costa is already a hero at Atletico after a 2013-14 campaign in which his 27 LaLiga goals provided the foundation for their first league title since 1996. He was jeered by Chelsea fans as he scored a penalty in Atletico’s Champions League semi-final victory that season, but he only lasted nine minutes of the final against Real Madrid in what proved to be the last game of his first spell before his move to west London.
After a trophy-laden spell at Barcelona, Villa may have thought his time of contending for major honours was over when he joined Atletico in 2013. However, it was a transfer that provided one final hurrah as he helped dethrone Barca with 13 league goals before he moved on to Melbourne City and then New York City.
1 – Antoine Griezmann has scored the first goal at Wanda Metropolitano with his first shot of the game. Crucial. pic.twitter.com/TbfmHs6BiO
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) September 16, 2017
Much like Villa, Mandzukic was already a well established name by the time he joined Atletico, but the Croatia striker did not enjoy the same success. He won the Supercopa de Espana and scored 12 league goals, but moved on after one campaign for Juventus, where he has been reinvented as a winger.
Undoubtedly one of the hottest properties in world football, Griezmann stayed at Atletico – amid intense speculation – due to a reluctance to leave during their transfer ban. That decision sees Atletico hang on to the France forward, who since joining from Real Sociedad has scored 60 league goals in three LaLiga seasons. He opened his account for this term against Malaga last weekend, his winner a fitting first goal at Atletico’s new Wanda Metropolitano stadium.
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