£150,000-a-week star hints that Chelsea transfer agreement is close amid £40m interest

Chelsea outcast Diego Costa has released a public statement reiterating his well-documented desire to return to Atletico Madrid, expressing a belief that a deal could be completed upon his imminent arrival in Spain.

The AWOL striker, who has scored 58 goals in 120 appearances for Chelsea including 20 during the 2016-17 title-winning campaign, does not feature in Antonio Conte’s plans for the future at Stamford Bridge and the saga involving his expected departure has become increasingly messy amid a training stand-off and talk of potential legal action from both sides.

Costa was given an extra week off at the start of pre-season to sort his future and was subsequently omitted from Chelsea’s pre-season tour of the Far East.

The 28-year-old, who says he was close to extending his contract in January, has spent the summer in Brazil and recently made it clear that he has no intention of returning to west London to train with the reserves as he continues to rack up weekly fines.

He even said he would be willing to stay in South America for a year without playing or being paid, although ideally wanted his return to Atletico to be resolved this month after rejecting offers from elsewhere.

Speaking again on his future on Thursday (17 August), Costa, who earns £150,000-a-week at Chelsea on a deal lasting until 2019, said: “My destination is already made. I must return to Atletico Madrid. It turns out that there is the impasse that Chelsea does not want to release me. But I believe that this situation will be resolved now on my return to Spain.”

Costa has never made a secret of his desire to rejoin Atletico, the club with whom he won both a La Liga title and the Copa del Rey in addition to reaching the Champions League final in a successful second stint with Los Colchoneros that lasted between 2010 and 2014.

Atletico are said to be interested in securing the return of the Spain international, despite a transfer ban upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) that would leave them unable to register him until January 2018. The Independent reported earlier this week that they were now willing to spend a little over £40m ($51.4m) to land Costa having previously baulked on his asking price and had devised a detailed physical plan to help him maintain fitness until he is able to play in the New Year.

Diego Simeone could also contemplate sanctioning a short-term loan deal, with the player having previously expressed his ambition to secure a place in Spain’s squad for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Big-spending Serie A outfit AC Milan have also been linked with Costa over recent months, while he was previously targeted for a lucrative move to the Chinese Super League (CSL) following reports of an offer worth £30m-per-year and an apparent row with Chelsea fitness coach Julio Tous.

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