Big boys continue to splash out

Diego Costa

Two of the Premier League’s title hopefuls flexed their transfer muscles yesterday as Diego Costa completed his £32 million move from Atletico Madrid to Chelsea while Liverpool signed Lazar Markovic from Benfica for an undisclosed fee, reported to be £20m.

Striker Costa has long been linked with a switch to Stamford Bridge and a fee was agreed earlier this month, with Chelsea meeting his £32m buy-out clause.

A statement on Chelsea’s website read: “Chelsea FC is delighted to announce Diego Costa has today completed his transfer from Atletico Madrid by signing a five-year contract. He will join up with the first team for our pre-season European training camp next week.”

Costa joins former Arsenal and Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas in moving from the Primera Division to Stamford Bridge this summer.

His goals helped Atletico claim a first Spanish league title in 18 years last season and he helped the Madrid side to the Champions League final, beating Chelsea in the semi-final en route to Lisbon, where Real Madrid won the European Cup.

Costa said: “Everybody knows it is a big club in a very competitive league, and I am very excited to get started in England with a fantastic coach and team-mates.

“Having played against Chelsea last season I know the high quality of the squad I am joining. I would like to thank everybody at Atletico who made me into the player I am.”

Liverpool, meanwhile, have signed Serbia winger Markovic.

The 20-year-old has joined on what the Merseysiders describe as a “long-term deal”.

Markovic is Liverpool’s fourth new recruit of the summer, following the arrivals of Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Emre Can.

Markovic began his professional career with Partizan Belgrade and won successive Serbian titles with them before leaving last summer to join Benfica.

The 2013/14 season then saw him win a Portuguese treble as well as getting to the Europa League final, where Benfica were beaten by Sevilla.

Regarding his new team, Markovic said: “I am very happy that I have joined such a great club.

“I hope that I will fulfil the expectations of the supporters, coaches, players and all connected to the club.”

Markovic added: “I watched every game [of Liverpool’s last season, from Portugal] and they played absolutely superb.

“It is a shame they did not win the [Premier League] title — but I hope we will win it this season.”

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers said: “This is an exciting signing for us and one that improves our squad, in terms of attacking options, for the coming season.

“He was hugely impressive for Benfica last season and has proved he has the ability to produce the goods in European competition as well, which will be important for us.

“Lazar is flexible to play a number of positions, but I like the way he attacks games and is always positive and looking to make something happen. He will fit in with the way we play at Liverpool.”

Elsewhere, Roma signing Ashley Cole believes other English players are unwilling to step out of their comfort zone and also play abroad. Cole became Serie A’s only English player when he signed a two-year contract for the Giallorossi and yesterday he was asked why his compatriots are not following in his footsteps.

“Perhaps British players are a little afraid to move abroad,” Cole said. “They are accustomed to British culture and for them it is convenient to stay at home.”

The 33-year-old is delighted to have joined the Eternal City outfit after eight years at Chelsea.

“I decided to come here in order to continue to play in the Champions League with a great and ambitious club,” Cole said.

“I realised how much the club wanted me and that they considered me useful to their project and I jumped at the opportunity.

“I arrive at an ambitious club and hope to win here.”

In other transfer news, Newcastle United expect to formally announce Netherlands international Daryl Janmaat as their latest summer signing today. The 24-year-old Feyenoord full-back travelled to Tyneside yesterday to undergo a medical and discuss personal terms after the two clubs agreed a fee at the weekend.

It appeared an announcement was imminent, with a photograph of the player holding a back and white shirt alongside Magpies manager Alan Pardew appearing on Twitter.

However, some minor formalities remain to be completed and that means Janmaat will not now be unveiled until today.

His official arrival will be significant for more than one reason as it is likely to trigger France international Mathieu Debuchy’s departure for Arsenal.


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