Those in positions of power at Atletico Madrid and Chelsea have become well acquainted over the past decade. Several big-money transfers have been conducted between the two clubs, although it’s the Blues who have fared better from these.
The loan deal which saw Thibaut Courtois join the La Liga side for the 2011/12 season was a key relationship builder for the sides. The Belgian would eventually spend three seasons with Atletico and played a key role in their title win in 2014.
Chelsea brought Courtois back to Stamford Bridge that summer and also took Diego Costa and Felipe Luis from Atletico. The former became a key component in two Premier League title-winning sides at Stamford Bridge, scoring 59 goals in 120 games for the Blues.
Luis’ switch to Stamford Bridge didn’t work out, however, and he returned to Atletico after just one season in London. “Juventus and PSG made offers but I only wanted to go to Atletico,” the Brazilian said this week in an interview with the Guardian.
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“At the end I messaged Marina [Granovskaia] saying sorry I couldn’t show you my best but thanks for believing in me. I didn’t want to work for Mourinho another year. But I tell you: it wasn’t just Mourinho’s fault.
“I just knew that with Cholo I’d be the old Filipe Luís again. Later he said: ‘See, you only play well for me; you had to come back to play well again.’ And it’s true. He knew every centimetre of my brain. I had no doubts about going back.”
Two years after Luis returned to Atletico, Costa attempted to follow suit having been informed by Antonio Conte via text that he would not be relied upon in the season ahead.
The ramifications of that message were myriad, and the Spain international didn’t get his wish. Well, not at first.
A deal worth £57.1million was eventually struck between Chelsea and Atletico for Costa…