Diego Costa spoke of his delight at being able to return “home” to Atletico Madrid as he arrived in Spain to put the finishing touches on his move from Chelsea.
The two clubs announced on Thursday they had reached an agreement for the transfer of the 28-year-old Spain striker back to Atletico, with the fee reported to be in the region of £58million.
Costa, who made no secret of his desire to return to the Rojiblancos during his three years at Stamford Bridge, on Friday afternoon landed in Madrid from Sao Paulo to undergo a medical with Diego Simeone’s side and finalise his contract.
The Brazil-born forward will not be able to play for Atletico until January due to their transfer ban, but he is nevertheless thrilled to have been granted his wish to re-join the club with whom he won the Spanish title in 2014.
In quotes reported by Marca, Costa told reporters at Barajas airport: “I’m very happy, It’s taken a lot of time but it has a happy ending. Now I’m waiting to see my team-mates and train. I’m looking forward to giving my best as always, and hopefully things go well.
“It always makes you a little nervous when time is passing by, but (Atletico chief executive) Miguel Angel Gil has made a great effort and I’m grateful to him, like everybody at the club. I’m very happy and will try to show my thanks in some way.”
Costa scored 59 goals in 120 appearances for Chelsea after joining them from Atletico for £32million in 2014, helping the Blues win two Premier League titles in the process.
However, things turned sour this year with the relationship between the striker and Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte damaged in January when Costa reportedly had his head turned by a big money offer from the Chinese Super League, which soon evaporated.
Relations between Costa and Chelsea deteriorated further over the summer with the player – having initially been granted granted an additional summer break after being told he could leave the club – ending up in exile in Brazil.
Costa, who had two years left on his contract with the Premier League champions, said of his acrimonious Stamford Bridge exit: “It’s not the way I wanted it leave, ever. 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.
“I wanted to return (to Atletico). I’m not going to be ungrateful to Chelsea, where I was also very happy, playing in a team that was great. Atletico is my home and I’m here.”
Having not taken part in pre-season training with Chelsea, Costa’s is unlikely to be at peak fitness but he said: “I’m not as bad as some say and here we have El Profe Ortega (Atletico’s fitness coach Oscar Ortega) who is going to have me in shape. The scales don’t scare me, his training sessions scare me!”