The Diego Costa rumour mill continues to churn this morning.
The latest sentiments, as expressed in the Guardian, are that Conte has no intention of speaking face-to-face with the striker about his planned departure. Conte will simply judge him on his performances and attitude on the training pitch. Should he observe the required improvement, he’s back in Chelsea’s XI. Simple as that.
Such a stance, of course, flies in the face of Conte’s assertion that the Spaniard’s absence on Saturday was due to a back injury. There’s now no doubt about the seriousness of the offer tabled by Tianjin Quanjian, thought to be worth £30 million-a-year to Costa.
However, contract decisions are often made easier when a team are in good form, as is certainly the case for Chelsea at the moment. 7 points clear at the summit of the league, fresh from winning 3-0 away from home without Costa, things could hardly be rosier at Stamford Bridge.
Seven points clear at the summit of the Premier League and fresh from winning 3-0 away from home without Costa, things could hardly be rosier at Stamford Bridge. It is frankly baffling that Costa would even entertain the notion of leaving such a situation for China half-way through the season. Costa does however have s previous record of such inclinations.
Conte’s insistence that he won’t deal with the offer head-on may be worrying for Chelsea fans in light of his track record. Costa has repeatedly shown himself to have little loyalty, be that at club or country level. His decision to play for Spain at the 2014 World Cup, shunning his nation of Brazil in their home World Cup was particularly irksome and should he repeat the trick by forcing a departure from Chelsea, he will have few admirers left in world football.
This has the look of a story with plenty of distance still to go. Whether or not he features against Hull this weekend could well be telling in how the story ultimately unfolds. Should he not feature, Chelsea are likely to begin drawing up a list of possible replacements, with Christian Benteke and Real Madrid’s Álvaro Morata thought to be highly fancied by Conte.