ANTONIO CONTE has told Romelu Lukaku he will be Chelsea’s first-choice striker.
That is according to Italian football journalist Emanuele Giulianelli, who says the decision explains why Diego Costa revealed that he is on borrowed time at Stamford Bridge.
Earlier this week, Costa claimed that Conte has told him he is not in his plans for next season.
He looks set to be replaced by Everton star Lukaku, who Starsport understand has snubbed Manchester United for a return to Chelsea.
And Giulianelli believes Conte has already been in discussions with the 24-year-old.
He tweeted: “What Diego Costa has revealed wasn’t a secret at all.
“Conte has explained to Lukaku that in his plans he would be the first choice.”
Lukaku has publicly claimed that he already has an agreement in place with his chosen club.
He said: “My agent knows what is going to happen and I know as well. I’m staying calm and we have an agreement with the club as well.
“We stay calm and at least we have a direction where we want to go. I want to take everything to another level and be better than I was last year.”
Chelsea are likely to take a financial hit to offload Costa this summer.
Milan are in talks with Costa’s agent Jorge Mendes about a possible move but the Italian giants are unlikely to be able to cover his £9m-per-season salary.
Chelsea, who are prepared to get rid of Costa on a permanent deal for less than the £32m they paid for his services in 2014, could subsidise part of his wages for a loan deal.