Football: Unwanted Costa given time off

Spain's Diego Costa (centre) takes part in a training session in Skopje, on June 10, 2017.
Spain's Diego Costa (centre) takes part in a training session in Skopje, on June 10, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

Chelsea allow their top scorer in title-winning season to stay in Brazil before impending exit

LONDON • Diego Costa is not expected at Chelsea's Cobham training base this week, having been given permission to miss the first team's return for pre-season training, while negotiations continue with Atletico Madrid aimed at securing his permanent departure.

The Premier League champions reported back to work yesterday morning, 24 hours after Antonio Conte returned. It was made clear to Costa by the manager last month that he is not in the Italian's plans for the new campaign, with the Spain forward having since indicated he will only countenance re-signing for Atletico.

The Spanish club's initial offer, worth around £26 million (S$46.4 million), falls well short of Chelsea's valuation but talks are continuing aimed at striking a compromise.

In the meantime, and with no chance of a change of heart from either party in the near future, the club and Costa's representatives have agreed the 28-year-old, on holiday in Brazil, will be granted extra time off while the deal is concluded.

It is unclear when Costa would return, but Chelsea's first-team squad fly to Beijing for a three-game tour of East Asia next Monday. It seems unlikely he would be considered for that trip to China and Singapore.

On Sunday, Chelsea strengthened their defensive options by completing the signing of Antonio Rudiger on a five-year deal from Roma, with the Germany defender joining the Premier League champions for an initial £29 million.

The fee for the 24-year-old could rise to as high as £34 million with add-ons for a player who has won 17 caps for Germany and made four appearances in their triumphant Confederations Cup campaign in Russia.

Rudiger moves to England after two years at the Serie A club, whom he initially joined on a season-long loan from Stuttgart, and will help fill the void left by John Terry's departure for Aston Villa. Chelsea also sold Nathan Ake to Bournemouth for £20 million.

The Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek is expected to become the recently appointed Crystal Palace manager Frank de Boer's first signing for the club on a season-long loan.

The England Under-21 international midfielder will become the latest graduate from Chelsea's academy to secure a temporary switch to a rival Premier League side, following Tammy Abraham's move to Swansea and Huddersfield's capture of Kasey Palmer.

Loftus-Cheek failed to start a top-flight game for Conte's champions last season, with the manager insistent he would benefit from training and being around the first-team squad at Cobham. But he was made available for loan this summer, as he seeks more regular senior involvement.

Palace could also secure the Barcelona reserve goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen, who worked under de Boer at Ajax.

The 28-year-old, who moved to the Camp Nou for around £11 million last summer but started only one La Liga game, would most likely join initially on loan with a view to a permanent deal.

His arrival could prompt the France goalkeeper Steve Mandanda's return to Marseille on a three-year contract after a frustrating season at Selhurst Park.

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 11, 2017, with the headline 'Unwanted Costa given time off'. Print Edition | Subscribe