Football: Nod for Costa's Spain return

Spain’s Diego Costa celebrates scoring their second goal against Macedonia during their 2018 World Cup Qualifying European Zone - Group G football match.
Spain’s Diego Costa celebrates scoring their second goal against Macedonia during their 2018 World Cup Qualifying European Zone - Group G football match. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Chelsea yesterday confirmed that they have reached an agreement with Atletico Madrid over the sale of Diego Costa, with the Spain striker now expected to complete his return to LaLiga subject to the agreement of personal terms and a medical.

The Spaniard has yet to feature for the Premier League champions this season after being told he was not part of manager Antonio Conte's plans. But, despite Atletico currently being subjected to a transfer ban, a statement from Chelsea confirmed that the 28-year-old is set to rejoin the club three years after he moved to London for £32 million (S$58.5 million).

A further statement from Atletico confirmed that Costa has been given permission to travel to Spain for his medical check-up and to discuss personal terms.

Costa's last game for Chelsea was May's 1-2 FA Cup final loss to Arsenal, when he scored the last of his 59 goals. His protracted exit from Stamford Bridge has been a fractious one. Relations with Conte were damaged in January when the player reportedly had his head turned by a big-money offer from the Chinese Super League which soon evaporated.

But Conte and Chelsea, together with the striker and his agent, Jorge Mendes, agreed that Costa could leave in the close season.

That version of events is disputed by Costa, who argued Conte was forcing him out after the Italian sent a text message saying the striker was surplus to requirements, despite having two years remaining on his contract.

The striker's availability had alerted numerous clubs, but he only wanted to go to Atletico to be reunited with their coach Diego Simeone.

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 22, 2017, with the headline 'Nod for Costa's Spain return'. Print Edition | Subscribe