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Chelsea exile Diego Costa reportedly will not return to Stamford Bridge as his stand-off with manager Antonio Conte continues, and the striker is said to be planning on forcing through a move back to former club Atletico Madrid.
Adam Crafton and Ian Herbert of the Daily Mail reported Costa has “dismissed pleas” from his employers to return to west London after absconding to his home in Brazil following being told via text that he could leave the club.
Not only that, but the Telegraph‘s Matt Law added the Spain international plans to see out his summer in Madrid, hoping it will help pave the way for him to return to Atletico three years after joining the Blues.
ESPN FC’s Liam Twomey highlighted the hard-line stance shown by both parties in the ordeal, which shows no signs of coming to an amicable conclusion just yet:
Liam Twomey @liam_twomey
Costa’s latest comments change nothing for Chelsea, who still expect him to fulfil his contract by returning. Both sides entrenched #cfc
The Daily Mail also included part of a statement released by Costa detailing his intent to move back to Atleti: “My destination is already made. I must return to Atletico Madrid. There is an impasse as Chelsea do not want to release me. But I believe this situation will be resolved now on my return to Spain.”
Costa spent a collective six years on the books with Los Rojiblancos and fired manager Diego Simeone’s side to the 2013-14 Spanish top-flight title, but the landscape at the club has changed since then.
For starters, Atletico are unable to register new players due to a summer transfer suspension, per BBC Sport, meaning Costa would not be eligible to represent the club until January 2018 at the earliest.
However, such is Costa’s longstanding desire to move back to Spain’s capital that a comeback can’t be ruled out yet, and Goal’s Nizaar Kinsella detailed how his urge to move back is no fresh concept:
Nizaar Kinsella @NizaarKinsella
Diego Costa talked about joining Atletico Madrid after the FA Cup final, not much has happened in three months then. #CFC
The chances of a transfer materialising are also stunted by reports Chelsea stand to make £20 million less than their valuation of the player as Atleti are only willing to pay £30 million, per The Sun‘s Andrew Dillon.
Sky Sports pundit and former Premier League playmaker Paul Merson recently gave his opinion that Costa’s show of rebellion might put any potential suitors off chasing his services:
Sky Sports PL 👑 @SkySportsPL
WATCH: Would clubs think twice about buying Diego Costa after his recent behaviour? Merse thinks so. #TheDebate https://t.co/DBRShzsUxQ
Michy Batshuayi and summer signing Alvaro Morata led Chelsea’s line in pre-season, and the latter came off the bench to score a Premier League debut strike in the 3-2 defeat to Burnley last weekend.
It appears Chelsea will struggle to bring their striker back to west London as long as he holds hope of a move back to Atletico, and Conte may have to cut Costa loose if it means being able to focus fully on the campaign at hand.