Diego Costa is stuck in the worst goal drought of his Chelsea career amid fears his head has been turned by a fresh £650,000-a-week offer from China.
Costa knows there is a new deal on the table from the Chinese Super League worth £34million a year AFTER tax – which would make him the highest paid player in the world.
And there are growing fears that is proving a huge distraction – and the real reason behind Costa’s worrying lack of form as Chelsea’s season enters its most crucial phase.
Spain striker Costa, 28, looked set to leave Stamford Bridge in January when Tianjin Quanjia tried to sign him in a stunning £90m package.
Several Chinese clubs are ready to make a move in the summer and the Blues are also looking at strikers with Everton’s Romelu Lukaku and Real Madrid star Alvaro Morata on their hit-list of potential replacements.
It has coincided with Costa not scoring in his last five league games – a drought that has lasted 490 minutes – and Chelsea now face the run-in with their main striker badly out of form, and rivals Tottenham breathing down their necks.
Chelsea boss Conte managed Costa brilliantly in January and got him back firing again to maintain their Premier League title challenge.
But Costa’s drop in form in recent weeks is a major concern as Chelsea have seen Spurs close the gap in the league table to four points while they also face Mauricio Pochettino’s men in Saturday’s FA Cup semi final.