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Hands off Costa, Atletico chief warns Chelsea

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Diego Costa

Diego Costa

REUTERS

Diego Costa

Chelsea have been told to forget about trying to use any of their players as bargaining tools to sign Diego Costa this summer, writes Matt Law.

Atletico Madrid striker Costa has emerged as a top target for Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, who is desperate to strengthen his forward options.

Chelsea currently have highly-rated goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois on loan at Atletico, while Romelu Lukaku's future at the end of the season, when his spell at Everton will end, is unclear and Fernando Torres could be made available.

But Atletico have warned Mourinho he will be wasting his time if he tries to land Costa by offering Courtois, Lukaku or Torres and insist they can hang on to the 25-year-old.

There is a £32m buy-out clause in Costa's contract, but Atletico president Enrique Cerezo believes the Spanish club can keep their star man in Madrid for another season at least.

"I do not think Diego Costa will leave us at the end of the coming year," said Cerezo. "Unquestionably, we do not want to sell him or use him as a bargaining chip for another player.

"Atletico is a company which, for its proper functioning, must sell each year. However, we believe in this case we can keep our players at least one more season."

Despite being born in Brazil, Costa has chosen to play for Spain and Cerezo believes that favours Atletico.

"Diego wants to play for Spain," said Cerezo. "He likes Spain, he lives here and he considers it a better option to be part of the current world champions, so if he does play he will do great."

Costa has scored 27 goals in 35 games in all competitions this season and Atletico are just three points behind La Liga leaders Real Madrid.

Irish Independent