China deal could scupper Atletico's Costa move
Diego Costa, Chelsea's want-away striker, is prepared to consider a money-spinning move to China if Atletico Madrid cannot afford to take him back to Spain this summer.
Despite confirmation that Antonio Conte will take over as head coach after Euro 2016, Costa remains keen to leave Stamford Bridge at the end of this season.
Atletico have already confirmed their interest in re-signing Costa, but have also cast doubts over whether they will be able to find the kind of money Chelsea would demand to let the 27-year-old go.
Paris St-Germain have been sounded out over Costa, but it is clubs in the Chinese Super League who have signalled their willingness to spend more than £70m to take him to Asia. Costa would more than double his £185,000-a-week salary by going to China.
Conte will speak to Costa about his future, but the Chelsea top scorer is thought to be intent on leaving after becoming fed up with life in England and non-stop criticism over his discipline. He is suspended for tomorrow's game at Swansea.
Returning to Atletico and linking up again with Diego Simeone would be Costa's first choice and the Spanish club will do everything in their power to negotiate a deal for the player they sold to Chelsea for £32.5m in 2014.
Pushing Costa towards China would be far more profitable to Chelsea. They would have to spend big to replace him, with Edinson Cavani, Gonzalo Higuain and Romelu Lukaku among the targets. Securing more than £70m for Costa from a Chinese club would enable Chelsea to trigger the £72m buy-out clause in Higuain's Napoli contract.
It would also comfortably cover PSG's asking price for Cavani and, perhaps significantly, help to justify a move to re-sign Lukaku from Everton.
Technical director Michael Emenalo felt the Belgian was sold too soon in 2014. The success of Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne away from Chelsea has raised questions over the club's recent transfer policy. But Emenalo and the Blues could argue that Everton effectively paid £28m to develop the 22-year-old. Chelsea could still make a profit on the overall deal by selling Costa to China and re-signing Lukaku.
Conte has been in London this week to sign his Chelsea deal, discuss plans for his squad with the club's hierarchy and meet the players. (© Daily Telegraph, London)