Chelsea striker Diego Costa could yet remain at the club beyond the summer after the saga concerning his future at Stamford Bridge appears to have taken new twists.
Despite finishing the 2016/17 season as top scorer as Chelsea cruised to the Premier League title, Costa looked destined to leave Stamford Bridge after he was told in no uncertain terms by Antonio Conte that would not be part of the manager’s plans moving forward.
Costa and Conte were already believed to have a strained relationship after a falling out in January, and there seemed to be no way back for the player after he went public in early June.
However, with Chelsea now having missed out on Romelu Lukaku – whose move to Manchester United has been confirmed subject to a medical – the west London club are now faced with a situation where a patching up between Costa and Conte could be the only way forward.
According to The Sun, Costa is ‘willing to have showdown talks’ with Conte and is apparently ‘open’ to returning to Stamford Bridge to continue playing for Chelsea.
Conte is said to consider Costa ‘untrustworthy’ after the player rejected the offer of a new contract at the end of the season, but he may be forced to accept that he has no choice but to make up with the Spaniard and bring him back in from the cold.
With Lukaku suddenly off the market despite seeming destined to rejoin Chelsea, the club are now faced with the prospect of desperately negotiating deals in a shorter time frame for other elite but available top strikers, of which there are precious few. Their situation could easily see them taken for a ride were they to chase Real Madrid’s Alvaro Morata or Torino’s Andrea Belotti.
The Sun claims that Costa’s agent Jorge Mendes has contacted Chelsea official to arrange ‘peace’ talks for his client, but it is said that the final decision is likely to rest with Conte.
One such reason for Costa’s willingness to resurrect his Chelsea career is possibly the lack of options for him if he leaves. A £22m return to Atletico Madrid has been rumoured, but an update from Sky Sports’ Kaveh Solhekol suggests that Chelsea’s £60m valuation is putting Atletico off.
Told Diego Costa is a Chelsea player “as things stand”. Atletico Madrid refusing to pay anywhere near what Chelsea think he is worth – £60m
— Kaveh Solhekol (@SkyKaveh) July 7, 2017
Despite the Madrid club’s transfer ban that prevents them from registering new players until January 2018, it was thought Costa would still be willing to make the move and wait for his chance to play, but the lack of an offer that Chelsea consider acceptable creates difficulty.
One option that may yet be explored further if Costa and Conte cannot put their differences behind them is a loan move to Besiktas. That comes from Turkish journalist Firat Gunayer, who admitted at first thinking a deal wouldn’t be possible given other clubs potentially involved and wages, but now considers there to be a chance if Besiktas are prepared to be ambitious.