The narrative around Diego Costa’s future and transfer to China has shifted in recent weeks from a foregone conclusion to something far less certain.
While it still would be surprising if it did not happen, recent comments from the likes of Conte, who built him as the best in the world before urging Chelsea to keep our best players this summer, and Costa himself (he’s the “owner of his own future”) have certainly created a path towards a resolution more in line with the status quo.
And so when Cesc Fàbregas sat down for an interview yesterday, media wasted no time in asking him about Costa’s future and whether he’s learning Chinese yet:
“If he doesn’t speak with me in English, I do not think he will speak with me in Chinese! I hope he doesn’t because Diego is a great friend, a great player and we need him here. [I wouldn’t like him to leave]. Not at all. He is very necessary for me in this dressing room.”
“[The Chinese offer a lot of money but] at the end a player has to think what he wants to do in his career. I’m sure he will make the right decision but, as his friend, I think he is necessary at this club and in this dressing room. I have a good friendship with Diego.
“We talk a lot and he knows my opinion. Not just about this [a potential move to China] but about everything. We talk about life. He will decide with his family what is best for him and I am not nobody to get involved in that, but for me he is a very important player for this club.”
While Cesc does appear to confirm the existence or the possibility of the move to China, the important part is his urging and plea for Costa to stay with him at Chelsea instead.
Do also note the inherent assumption on Fàbregas’s part about he himself staying at Chelsea, an outcome that would not have been likely just a few months ago when he looked to be the first high profile casualty of the Conte Era.
“I had a very bad start to the season. I did not play, then I got an injury and I was left out of the national team. It was a big blow. But I said that I was not going to give up and that I had to fight. The game against Manchester City [in December] was key to changing the situation. I have started to play a lot more since then. I earned the confidence of the manager and I am finishing the season very well. I am very proud of how I have turned around the situation.”
“I never thought [about leaving during the January transfer window]. This season has been like a personal challenge for me. People said that I did not fit into Conte’s style and I wanted to prove them wrong. I have adapted phenomenally to the formation and I’m very happy. It’s a season to be proud but it’s still not over and I hope we can finish it by winning the double. It would be fantastic.”
Should Chelsea win the Double this season, Fàbregas will have collected four major trophies in just three seasons with the Blues. Fittingly, it’s Arsenal who stand in his and Chelsea’s way in the FA Cup final ten days from now. Fàbregas may not start that match, but he will be more than ready to make his customary impact.
“It will be emotional. It’s not as if I like to play against them because they are a club which is in my heart and they will always be. But this is football and this is what we have to do, it can happen and hopefully we can win the Double. That would be a fantastic season for Chelsea and for us.”
“I have to put those feelings aside. You have to be professional. Of course, it means a lot to me, it’s not an ordinary game for me. It will be a tough game.”
Double or no Double, Chelsea will be back in Europe next season and that’s something that Fàbregas is also looking forward to.
“We definitely feel we can do something in the Champions League. It will be a big target for us. […] It will be very tough to compete but we feel we can be strong next season, not just in the Premier League but the Champions League as well. I am sure we will strengthen our team. We’ve won the title but that doesn’t mean that the team cannot get better. Every team, even if they win, will try to improve and I’m sure that Chelsea will try to do that.”
Cesc-to-Diego has become a classic combination over these past three seasons. Have we seen the last of it? My assumption had been for a while that yes … but maybe, just maybe, that’s not a foregone conclusion?
The summer fun’s just beginning!