Costa exit looms as conte reveals plans

Chelsea's Diego Costa finds a gap between the Arsenal trio of Per Mertesacker, Nacho Monreal and Rob Holding. His 22 goals played a major role in Chelsea's victory in the English Premier League.
Chelsea's Diego Costa finds a gap between the Arsenal trio of Per Mertesacker, Nacho Monreal and Rob Holding. His 22 goals played a major role in Chelsea's victory in the English Premier League.PHOTO: REUTERS

Striker weighs up his options after manager's revelation that he is not a part of Blues' future

LONDON • Diego Costa insists he will look for an exit route out of Chelsea after being told by Antonio Conte that he is not part of the Italian's plans for next season.

Costa, 28, was an integral part of Chelsea's victorious English Premier League campaign this season, scoring 22 goals.

However, he claims he has no option but to leave Stamford Bridge in the coming months after being told by Conte that he has no future with the English champions.

"I am going to be honest, the other day I got a message from the coach, Conte, that I am not part of his plans," Costa told reporters after Spain's 2-2 draw in a friendly match with Colombia on Wednesday.

"Right now I am a Chelsea player because I have a contract, but if the coach doesn't want me there, then I have to leave."

Costa said last month that he would contemplate a move only to Atletico Madrid, from whom he joined Chelsea in 2014.

CONSIDERING HIS NEXT MOVE

I am going to be honest, the other day I got a message from the coach, Conte, that I am not part of his plans.

DIEGO COSTA, explaining that the Italian sees no further prospects for him at Stamford Bridge.

However, with the Spanish side banned by Fifa from registering new players until January, any move to Atletico before the end of August would mean Costa would have to wait until the new year to play.

"I don't know," said the striker when asked about a return to Atletico.

"To not play for four or five months is difficult. People know that I love my team-mates at Atletico, I love to live in Madrid, but I need to think about my future."

A move to the Chinese Super League was also a possibility, even though Costa has asserted his reluctance to move to China.

It remains unclear whether he has other suitors in Europe.

Costa's exit would open up room for Romelu Lukaku's return to Stamford Bridge, with the Everton forward making his desire to leave Goodison Park known.

The Belgium striker said on Tuesday that he had an agreement in place with a new club, but did not name them.

If Lukaku does sign for Chelsea, that could spell trouble for his compatriot and fellow striker Michy Batshuayi, who has insisted that he will not tolerate another season as a bit-part player for the Blues as he targets a place at the World Cup in Russia next year.

Costa has also previously stated that he wants to play for Spain at the World Cup, which is partly why he does not fancy a move to China, where he will be less prominent.

On Wednesday, he was an unused substitute in Spain's draw with Colombia as Real Madrid striker Alvaro Morata came off the bench to salvage Julien Lopetegui's unbeaten record as Spain coach.

After Edwin Cardona had cancelled out David Silva's opener for the Spaniards, Radamel Falcao's first international goal for two years had Colombia on course for a famous win.

However, Morata made his case to start Sunday's World Cup qualifier away to Macedonia with a towering header three minutes from time to save Spain's blushes.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 09, 2017, with the headline 'Costa exit looms as conte reveals plans'. Print Edition | Subscribe