Incoming Chelsea boss Antonio Conte hasn’t even taken charge of the club yet but he already faces his first major battle.
The lack of Champions League football at Stamford Bridge has meant that they face a fight to keep hold of their best players this summer, with the likes of Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard being linked with moves away.
One player who definitely does want to depart the club, according to the Telegraph, is striker Diego Costa.
The Spanish international has been in flying form since José Mourinho was replaced by Guus Hiddink in December, scoring 11 goals in 17 games as Chelsea looked to make up for a shambolic start to the current campaign.
Rather than stick around and fully make up for that wretched run of form, however, he apparently wants to jump ship at the end of the season.
The report alleges that Diego Costa is desperate to quit the club this summer and return to former club Atlético Madrid.
This apparently has nothing to do with the fact that Chelsea will not be in Europe’s premier club competition next season – rather that he is simply fed up with the scrutiny over his disciplinary issues.
The 27 year old received only his first red card in English football in last month’s 2-0 FA Cup defeat to Everton – his reaction to which saw him receive an extra game added to his suspension and a £20,000 to go with that – but he has been involved in a number of incidents which have gained him notoriety in the Premier League.
Conte has promised Chelsea that they will make it back into the Champions League at the first attempt, but Diego Costa is still reportedly determined to leave.
Atlético would welcome the striker back to the Calderón with open arms such is the esteem he is still held in there – and while PSG also retain an interest in the player, the encouragement they have been receiving to pursue Neymar recently means that they now have other priorities.
Any offer that Chelsea do receive would have to be more than the £32million they bought him for for them to even consider selling.
As for who could replace Diego Costa at Chelsea, they apparently have a range of options. The Independent were yesterday linking Conte with a £50million bid for Everton striker Romelu Lukaku (which would be £22m more than they sold him for two years ago), while Paris Saint-Germain striker Edinson Cavani and Napoli’s Gonzalo Higuaín are also being touted as potential replacements.
In fact, they might attempt to sign more than one of the names on that shortlist. With Loïc Rémy set to leave, along with the expiry of the loan deals for Alexandre Pato and Radamel Falcao, Chelsea would be left in the highly undesirable situation of having no senior strikers on the books – hardly ideal preparation for a season of transition.
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