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After a difficult summer transfer window, Chelsea continue to struggle to find a solution to the Diego Costa problem with the Spanish striker still yet to return from his extended break in Brazil. Atletico Madrid remain significantly interested in re-signing the goal-scorer, with another bid highly likely.
Now Chelsea have looked to emerge from this saga in as strong a position as possible but the fact remains that whilst Costa is not playing he loses value as a footballer, given the fact it has been made clear that the 28-year-old isn’t wanted at Stamford Bridge by the coach, he is also losing value as a market asset.
It is likely that the London club will acquiesce and allow Costa to leave in January with Los Colchoneros in recent days having prepared an offer which will total £57 million.
This offer sees around £48 million paid up front with the rest made up by bonus payments. One of the issues though is a loyalty bonus owed to the former Rayo Vallecano forward.
He is contractually owed 5% of any initial transfer fee which equates to roughly £2.4 million, a figure that neither Atleti nor Chelsea are willing to pay.
This is the stalemate that the two clubs are at now, the Spanish giants feel they are paying way over the odds for a player Chelsea don’t even want in the first place, the Blues on the other hand are determined to make it as difficult as possible for last season’s top scorer to depart.
It is in everybody’s best interest for this transfer to be sealed as quickly as possible.
Chelsea can then begin to plan how they will reinvest the money in January, Los Rojiblancos can rest easy in the knowledge they will receive a huge boost of talent in the winter and Costa himself can begin to put the sorry episode behind him, start training in the Spanish capital and work his way into a position where being part of Spain’s squad for the World Cup isn’t impossible.
Costa, though, is being missed at Stamford Bridge irrespective of Alvaro Morata’s fine start to life in the Premier League.
Morata’s movement in and around the penalty area is fantastic, his ability to get into scoring positions is perfect for causing trouble for opposing defences, however he quite simply isn’t nasty enough for certain matches.
Arsenal are a well known soft-touch, it is impossible to argue against that, yet on Sunday afternoon it was the Gunners who were able to dig in and battle for a valuable 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge, a venue they are notorious for struggling at.
Chelsea lacked a really nasty presence in attack that would give Arsenal’s defence a tough time both physically and mentally and it helped the visitors grow in confidence as the match progressed.
Time for Chelsea to move on
Now it is clear that the Costa era at Chelsea has very much passed, Conte has seen to that, yet the club now has to maximise his value and move on.
On paper, £48 million in the current market for a centre-forward who can get you 20+ Premier League goals is a real bargain. Despite the Spanish club’s rather public protestations, it is clear that under normal circumstances Costa could be sold for a fee in excess of £75 million, easily.
Unfortunately, events have conspired against the defending English champions on this front and they now have to settle for whatever money they can get.
It is a poorly kept secret that the former Juventus coach was generally unhappy with the transfer business his club completed in the summer. Conte wanted far more depth and quality in order to stand a real chance in the Champions League.
He has since managed to work his magic on the current squad and avoid the kind of Mourinho-esque disaster that befell the group in the 2015/16 campaign, yet it seems impossible that he won’t ask for further signings in January.
The boost of £48 million into the club coffers is helpful to the modern, self-sustainable Chelsea, it could hand the Italian coach the opportunity to bring in a key target midway through the campaign.
Distasteful saga that must come to a close
This whole saga won’t be remembered fondly and it irreparably tarnishes the relationship between the former Atletico striker and Chelsea supporters, yet it is time for everybody to move on.
Costa is ready to return to Madrid and hand Diego Simeone another attacking weapon whilst Chelsea have to build their attacking unit around Morata and Eden Hazard. The only way this can happen is for Costa to be sold and at present that doesn’t seem like it is too far away.
Written by Chris Winterburn
Follow Chris on Twitter @cmwinterburn
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