Antonio Conte has been in the Chelsea job no longer than a fortnight and yet he’s already had to make some major decisions regarding his strikers.
The Italian made Marseille forward Michy Batshuayi his first signing, the Belgian joining for £33 million.
Batshuayi’s arrival provides Diego Costa with stiff competition to start next season Conte must surely hope that a head-to-head battle will get the best out of both players.
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Radamel Falcao and Loic Remy were the other options last season and neither did enough to really make Costa work hard. But Batshuayi, who scored 20 goals in all competitions last season, will put serious pressure on Costa to start up front.
That’s if Costa is even around next season.
Atletico Madrid bid
The Spain international has been the subject of heavy interest from his Atletico Madrid and, according to Marca, the La Liga club have seen a €60 million bid for the 27-year-old rejected.
Costa’s attitude last season resembled that of a player not entirely happy and Madrid could be looking to capitalise on any uneasiness Costa has at Stamford Bridge.
And given the success he enjoyed at the Vicente Calderon before moving to Chelsea, it’s not implausible to imagine Costa wanting to return to the Spanish capital.
He helped Los Rojiblancos to a La Liga title in 2013-14, the club’s first in 18 years, and Copa del Rey success the previous season. Costa also started the 2014 Champions League final clash against Real Madrid but was subbed off early on due to an injury.
Given last season’s horror show at Chelsea, combined with the fact that Atleti were competitive in Spain and Europe once again, the Vicente Calderon could be the best setting for Costa if he wants to win trophies.
Conte: Costa is world-class
Chelsea’s refusal to sell the striker correlates with Conte’s recent assessment of the forward.
"Diego stays with us. He is working very hard. He is very happy to work with his team-mates and with me," the former Italy boss told reporters on Tuesday, per the BBC.
"He is a fantastic player, a player with a fundamental importance, and there is no problem.
"He is an important player, one of the best in the world, and I am sure when he goes into our ideas he will score a lot of goals for us."
Costa will no doubt love to hear his manager refer to him as a world-class player, but there are some Chelsea fans out there wondering why a €60m bid for a striker who can’t be guaranteed to return to form, and runs the risk of being sent off in nearly every match, was rejected.
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