Chelsea fans could be forgiven for believing Diego Costa could play his last game for the club in the FA Cup final against Arsenal this Sunday.
The striker has been linked with interest from the Chinese Super League since January – namely Tianjin Quanjian after they reportedly put forward an official bid for his services.
Chelsea managed to hold on to Costa amid his alleged falling out with Antonio Conte, and it paid dividends despite a relative downturn in goals during the second half of the season.
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Despite netting just seven times in all competitions since the beginning of 2017, his physical presence and willingness to battle for every ball have been crucial to the Blues’ Premier League triumph.
Many of the Stamford Bridge faithful have been preparing to see the back of Costa this summer, but it seems his future is a lot less clear than suggested by recent reports.
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The Far East has been the most often mentioned potential destination for some time now, and although money is the main drawcard of Chinese clubs, it appears to represent a major issue is luring Costa from west London.
Tianjin Quanjian – thought to be willing to offer upwards of £60 million for the Spaniard – has played down talk of an imminent move via a statement on their club website.
According to the Sun, it said: "For the past six months, our club have not involved in any form of communication and negotiation with Diego Costa nor his representatives.
"Our club will draw up a rational transfer plan as an aim to improve the spectator experience of the Chinese Super League and meet its sustainability demands.
"We won’t take part in any unhealthy competition, thus preventing all overpriced signings."
It is an interesting twist in a saga that looked destined to see the Chinese club shell out whatever fee Chelsea required to part with ways with their top forward.
Chinese Super League teams have arguably overpaid to secure the likes of Oscar, Hulk, Ramires and Carlos Tevez in recent seasons – but Tianjin Quanjian are willing to follow suit.
While the news gives Chelsea a boost in their bid to keep Costa for next season, it is unlikely to be the last we hear of interest in his signature.
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