Diego Costa’s return to Atletico Madrid is regarded as only a matter of time after Chelsea manager Antonio Conte’s decision to banish the forward from Stamford Bridge. The Spain international scored 20 goals last season to fire the Blues to the title but a falling out with the Italian has led to him becoming surplus to requirements in west London.
The 28-year-old has declared his intent to return to Atletico for a third spell with the club and has urged the Premier League champions to “set him free” after Conte informed Costa by text message that he was no longer wanted. Costa has longed for a return to Atletico where he has scored 64 goals in 134 appearances across two spells, guiding the club to the La Liga title and the Champions League final in his last season in 2014.
Atletico, who cannot register Costa until January 2018 due to a transfer embargo imposed by Fifa, have already put together a detailed fitness plan to bring the striker up to speed after he was not involved in Chelsea’s pre-season plans, such is their confidence that a deal will be agreed. The club are willing to pay in excess of £40m to bring him back to his homeland, according to The Independent, and Terry Gibson feels the move is “inevitable”.
“I can’t believe there is not a deal to be done now, they have a transfer ban until January, but it suits Atletico Madrid and Chelsea and it suits Diego Costa,” the former Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United striker told Sky Sports.
“But it is not great for Conte to have Costa knocking around in Brazil doing pretty much what he likes, and Chelsea still paying his wages I presume, unless they are fining him on a daily basis for not turning up to training.
“And of course, with the way Chelsea started on the weekend, and if results continue to go against them, the pressure will be on the manager that he made the wrong decision.”
Gibson, who has previously worked as a scout in Spain for the likes of Manchester City, believes the manner in which Conte allegedly informed Costa that he was no longer wanted has seen his value plummet – denying Chelsea of a giant fee in an otherwise inflated transfer market.
“Chelsea have handled this badly,” he added. “It has really depreciated his value in a market this summer where they could have got an absolute fortune for Diego Costa.
“The way it was done in terms of the alleged text message between Antonio Conte and Costa devalues the player’s worth, and that was devalued even more by the fact he only wants to go to one club.
“And it pretty much looks like every other club in Europe have not bothered to make an offer to sign him, despite him being a top-quality striker, because everyone assumes he is going to be going to Atletico Madrid.”