Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone has admitted Chelsea striker Diego Costa was his No 1 transfer target this summer.
The Argentine was keen to bring former Atletico hitman Costa back to Spain, revealing his new £24million signing Kevin Gameiro was a back-up option.
‘The club worked on the possibility of Diego Costa’s arrival and after that did not advance, we were always very clear with Gameiro. Always,’ Simeone told Spanish programme Espacio Reservado.
Costa moved from Atletico to Chelsea following a hugely successful spell in the Spanish capital for a fee of £32m in July 2014.
His future at Stamford Bridge was unclear earlier this summer but with new Blues boss Antonio Conte keen to keep hold of the striker, Costa stayed put.
It scuppered any hopes Simeone had of bringing him back to the Vicente Calderon, with the Argentine adding: ‘When I spoke on the phone with him (Gameiro), I told him we wanted to bring Costa and he was the alternative.
“I bet entirely on him and he wanted to be the forward to join us this year.”
Atletico reached last season’s Champions League final, once again falling just short against city rivals Real Madrid. They also finished third in La Liga, and have high hopes of pushing Real and Barcelona close again this term.
Despite missing out on Costa, Simeone is excited about what Gameiro can bring to his side. Gameiro scored 29 goals for Sevilla last season, helping them to a third consecutive Europa League title.
“Kevin is an explosive player and a player we need in the final third because he plays forward, especially in tight spaces and reads his team-mates’ movements well,” Simeone said.
Gameiro will add to Atletico’s forward options alongside the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Fernando Torres.
“He’s different. Fernando is a player for longer spaces, while Gameiro is the opposite,” Simeone added. “The competition between them will give us possibilities and what better than for a team to contain variety?
“This year I can imagine a situation of better growth than I had last year. Griezmann has talent but with Gameiro and Fernando I think we are very good offensively.”