Tuesday 23 January 2018

Diego Costa 'must return to Chelsea before move to Atletico can happen'

Diego Costa, pictured right, claims Antonio Conte, left, told him he was surplus to requirements at Chelsea by text message
Diego Costa, pictured right, claims Antonio Conte, left, told him he was surplus to requirements at Chelsea by text message

Diego Costa must renege on his promise to remain in Brazil and instead return to Chelsea to have any hope of securing his desired move to Atletico Madrid, Press Association Sport understands.

Costa has criticised Chelsea's treatment of him this summer, saying he is "not a criminal" and insisting he is prepared to remain in exile for a year.

But it is understood that Chelsea want Costa, a player with two years remaining on his contract, to return to the club.

The Blues also expect the Brazil-born Spain striker to prove his fitness and make himself available for selection.

After being granted an additional week of leave and missing the pre-season tour to Asia, Costa is still to return to London around two weeks after his anticipated arrival as he agitates for a return to Atletico.

Costa, speaking at his family home in Lagarto, Brazil, said he has not reported for training as he does not want to train with the Blues' reserves, and is happy staying in Brazil and paying club fines until his future is resolved.

He told the Daily Mail: "They gave me a week extra off but since then it's fines all the way. They want me training with the reserves. I am not going to do that.

"I am not a criminal and I am not in the wrong here. So, if they need to fine me, let them fine me."

Chelsea do not have a reserve team, only age-group sides, and Costa has been given no indication he would be expected to train with them, Press Association Sport understands.

Costa joined Chelsea from Atletico in July 2014 and has twice won the Premier League title during his three years at Stamford Bridge.

He has scored 59 goals - 52 in the Premier League - across 120 appearances for the Blues.

The 28-year-old claims he was told he was not wanted by head coach Antonio Conte by text message in the summer and the frontman wishes to return to Atletico.

The Blues declined to respond to Costa's comments and Conte has recently been reluctant to discuss the player, describing the situation as belonging in "the past".

Chelsea have previously insisted the decision that Costa should leave this summer was made in January, with both the player and his agent, Jorge Mendes, aware.

"I am waiting for Chelsea to set me free," Costa said.

"I didn't want to leave. I was happy. When the manager does not want you, you have to go.

"I am open to being a year in Brazil without playing, even if Chelsea fine me for a year and don't pay me.

"I'll come back stronger. If I was in the wrong, I'd go back now and do as they say."

In Costa's absence, the Blues lost 3-2 to Burnley on Saturday, the full opening day of the Premier League season.

Costa only wants to move to Atletico, who are under a transfer embargo and cannot register new players until January.

"My desire is to go to Atletico. I have rejected other offers," he added.

"If I'm off, I'm going to the club I want to go to, not the club that's paying the most."

The striker said he was happy at Stamford Bridge until Conte made it clear he had no future in the team.

The friction can be traced to January, when Costa missed the Premier League trip to Leicester after a rumoured behind-the-scenes row with Conte and his coaching staff following speculation over a mega-money move to China.

Conte publicly stated Costa's absence was due to a back injury, but the player has now admitted it was for disciplinary reasons.

"That was a punishment for the attitude I had shown and for not behaving in the best way," he added.

Costa also says he was nearing a new contract with Chelsea at the time, but believes Conte put a halt to negotiations.

Costa was critical of Conte, saying the former Juventus and Italy boss "doesn't possess charisma" and expressing anger over the Italian's communication.

He added: "There are ways of going about it. You don't do it by text message. You should be honest and direct to someone's face."

Press Association

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport