Chelsea’s chances of securing a deal to quickly offload unwanted striker Diego Costa to AC Milan appear to have hit a serious obstacle over the player’s apparent wage demands.
Costa revealed to the world on Wednesday that manager Antonio Conte has informed him by text message that his services are no longer required at Stamford Bridge. Just a day later, his agent, Jorge Mendes, was rumoured to be in talks with Milan, but now the potential San Siro move is in doubt.
According to the Daily Telegraph, the Rossoneri are unwilling to pay Costa his full alleged wage demands of in excess of £200,000-per-week. And that could prove a serious problem as Milan are looking at a permanent deal rather than a loan where it might have been possible to arrange some sort of compromise with the Premier League champions.
The last thing Chelsea need is some long running saga with Costa, with Conte and club officials seemingly well aware of the potential danger his continued presence at the club will cause ahead of next season if he is still around when summer training begins next month.
But if Milan proves not to be an option, it remains to be seen where Costa can go. Speaking last month he denied any intention of leaving Europe for a lucrative contract in China and declared his interest in rejoining to former club Atletico Madrid.
Atletico’s upheld transfer ban put the brakes on a return to Madrid, although the latest gossip on that front is that he could still re-sign the club for them to register him in January 2018 when the ban is lifted, and head to China on loan in the meantime.
Romelu Lukaku looks set to be leading the line at Chelsea next season in place of Costa, with his confirmed return to Stamford Bridge seemingly only a matter of time. But Sky Sports pundit and former Arsenal forward Paul Merson wonders if the Belgian is the wrong man.
“I would say (Alvaro) Morata is a better fit than Lukaku for Chelsea. I think he is a better all-round footballer. Lukaku is a goalscorer and if you look at the stats, the running and the sprints are nowhere near in the same league as Costa,” Merson told Sky Sports.
“Morata has played with world-class players at (Real) Madrid and Juventus and he’ll be there for the little flick around the corner from Willian or Eden Hazard. You have to be bright and lively to play for Chelsea and those teams. My worry would be if Lukaku gets there, would he be on the same wavelength as those players? If he isn’t it will keep on breaking down.”
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