As fallouts between players and clubs go, this one is spectacular. Diego Costa, 28, wants out of Stamford Bridge and is not being shy about letting anyone know that. His ideal departure is on a private jet to Madrid and the warm, welcoming embrace of Atletico.
The Evening Standard reports that there are some French-sized spanners flying into the works. AS Monaco, defending French champions, and Olympique Marseille, home to France’s most passionate fans, are both keen to take the Brazilian-born Spanish international to Ligue Un putting Atletico on the back foot as they serve out their FIFA-imposed transfer ban.
The Spanish club reportedly ordered the striker to make his piece with the Chelsea hierarchy, fearing they will be hit with a £50m fee rather than the £25m they want to pay in January when their ban finishes.
Monaco, resigned to losing Kylian Mbappe, 18, on loan to PSG this summer and then permanently next year, raked in £200m in sales this year and have no problems meeting the higher cost.
Marseille meanwhile, backed by an ambitious American owner, are in the market for a marquee signing and one who will deliver the goals to propel them into the Champions League.
It’s turning decidedly messy for Atletico whose only power is in the hands of a striker for whom many believe the pressure is becoming too much to handle. Costa made it clear last week in interviews that he had no intention of returning to Stamford Bridge with the English media claiming he told team-mates to take what they want from his locker.
Chelsea, keen to divest themselves of the player without appearing week, want to defuse the situation. Whether their combustible striker will let them is another matter.