Is defending the Premier League title an impossible task all of a sudden?
Manchester United were the last team to achieve just that back in 2009 and the last two attempts have finished in 10th and 12th place finishes respectively. It’s fair to say Chelsea haven’t made the greatest start towards bucking the trend.
While, of course, there are still 37 games to play, a demoralising 3-2 defeat at home to Burnley certainly wasn’t in the script.
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One man who will have been watching closely and perhaps feeling rather smug proves Diego Costa.
Despite finishing as Chelsea’s top scorer – with 22 strikes – in their romp to the league title, the Spaniard has been exiled by Antonio Conte. He has been definitively informed that he has no future at the club, via the medium of text.
Nevertheless, the transfer window is less than three weeks from completion and he is still a Chelsea player. Atletico Madrid have been mooted as his preferred destination but Diego Simeone’s men are still under a transfer ban.
Links to AC Milan and China have also been discussed but the Blues could face a struggle to offload the forward, this side of January anyway.
In fact, the situation may have become even more clear-cut as a result of Costa’s behavior during his exile. While his teammates labored to defeat against Burnley, the 28-year-old has been relaxing on an extended holiday in Brazil.
Costa might have been letting his fitness slip too. According to The Sun, the Spaniard has been piling on the pounds and Chelsea are even concerned that it could hinder their selling ambitions.
The powers that be at the club have been monitoring his Instagram antics recently, which – naturally – have included Jet Ski rides with his dog.
And the Chelsea chiefs are convinced that his fitness has taken the toll, seeing his transfer valuation nosedive as his weight rises.
It adds further complications to an already convoluted situation. This was no more apparent than when The Sun reported on Friday that Costa had opened legal proceedings against his club.
After Saturday’s result too, it is doubtful that Conte would want any Costa-related troubles to add to his stress. Yet it seems frosty player-manager relations have caused far more damage than a simple sell.
With the Spaniard playing hardball and stifling the Blues, they better hope Alvaro Morata proves a worth replacement.
More late on against Burnley and less Community Shield, Alvaro.
Do you think Antonio Conte was right to exile Diego Costa? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
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