Every compelling story line needs a dastardly pantomime villain.
There’s no denying Game of Thrones would be a duller spectacle without the conniving and mercilessness of characters like Joffrey Lannister and Ramsay Bolton.
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But in the ebbing and flowing narrative of the Premier League the bad guy, at least for the last three seasons or so, has been Diego Costa.
The Spanish striker has finally got the move he’s yearned for for so long; a return to Atletico Madrid after the Blues agreed a deal that could rise to £60m with the Spanish giants.
For a player who won two league titles and three trophies in such a short stint at Chelsea, it says a lot about his personality that he’ll be remembered more for his antics than his achievements.
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There’s certainly an argument that the Blues, who have a handy knack of getting extortionate fees for unwanted players, have got the better side of the deal.
But on the flip side, can selling your top scorer and most potent goal threat really be interpreted as a savvy bit of business?
Because Costa will be missed, not only by Chelsea fans but by neutrals who absorb and digest the Premier League every week.
Arguably no foreign player, particularly one coming from La Liga, has acclimatised so quickly to the demands of England’s top division after Costa smashed seven goals in his first four league games.
That remains a record.
The west London club’s board might let out a sigh of relief but so will Premier League defenders, who Costa bullied and tormented relentlessly.
The 28-year-old represents a centre-back’s worst nightmare; a combination of brute strength, guile, finishing ability and, ultimately, an indefatigable winning mentality.
Costa surpassed the 20-goal mark in the Premier League in two of his three seasons and hit 59 in 120 appearances in all competitions.
Averaging a goal every other game is exactly what you want from your main man.
Let’s not forget his indiscretions which, to name but a few, include stamping on Emre Can, being accused of assault by a steward, allegedly spitting at a referee and ‘biting’ Gareth Barry.
He was also labelled a rat, alongside Cesc Fabregas and Oscar, by the fans who loved him for his supposed part in Jose Mourinho’s demise at Stamford Bridge.
There’s no denying Costa was a nuisance, but he was also a unique box office brand who is nigh on impossible to replace.
Alvaro Morata is a fine player and has settled well in England but he lacks that mean streak which made Costa such a priceless matchwinner.
Chelsea and the Premier League’s loss is Atletico’s gain and might inevitably signal good news for Manchester United over their long pursuit of Antoine Griezmann.
But now all that’s left to do is say thanks to Diego.
Divisive? Yes. Entertaining? Undeniable. He will be sorely missed.
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