CHELSEA will reportedly weigh up a loan deal for outcast striker Diego Costa.
The Spain international helped the Blues romp home to a second Premier League title in three years by smashing in 20 goals last season.
But earlier this month he revealed Antonio Conte has informed him he is free to leave Stamford Bridge when the transfer window opens.
Costa has been heavily linked with a return to Atletico Madrid, with whom he won La Liga before his move to England three years ago.
However, FIFA have upheld their transfer ban for signing underage players and the 28-year-old would not be able to play until January if he went there.
The Times claim Conte met Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich last week to discuss plans going forwards.
And the Russian apparently agreed with the former Juventus gaffer that Costa will depart west London this summer.
The Times say Chelsea are keen to find a buyer for the Brazil-born forward.
“Diego Costa is free to leave Chelsea this summer”
However, they will consider a loan switch for the first half of the campaign if one does not emerge.
Such an arrangement would allow Costa to stay fit and in contention for his adopted country’s 2018 World Cup plans.
And Atletico Madrid could then buy him if they remain interested in securing his services to partner Antoine Griezmann.