The transfer speculation around Spain and Chelsea forward Diego Costa that was rife throughout the season stepped up a gear in recent weeks, with the former-Brazilian the centrepiece of a public falling-out with Blues boss Antonio Conte. Despite Chelsea winning the league and Costa playing a key part, alleged text messages were used to deliver the news to Costa that we wouldn’t feature in next season’s squad plans.
Costa has delayed his return to preseason training and is busy trying to rescue his role at Stamford Bridge, but it wouldn’t be surprising if a transfer were to be announced. There are some big money offers from China already on the table and former club Atletico Madrid would certainly welcome him back with open arms, along with the rest of Europe’s elite.
The big question for Chelsea is who will plug the gap if Costa does end up plying his trade elsewhere. With only a few weeks left before the season begins and less than 2 months before the window closes, Chelsea’s transfer teams need to have an action plan if their first choice striker heads off to pastures new.
A big opportunity was missed with new Manchester United signing Romelu Lukaku. Deemed surplus to requirements under Jose Mourniho’s disastrous second tenure are Chelsea, the big Belgian tore up the league with Everton last year and could easily do the same this year. Chelsea were linked with him all year, so it’s surprising to see that he didn’t opt for a move back to London. Chelsea fans will want to know whether any formal bids or conversations happened, especially in a market where solid strikers are increasingly difficult to find.
Gossip has been pretty tame so far, with tenuous links to Swansea striker Fernando Llorente the only real news stories to have emerged from the back offices of Stamford Bridge. The latest story however is that Alvaro Morata could be the gap-filler than Conte needs. The Real Madrid man has been linked with Arsenal and Man United as well, but with the Red Devils splashing the cash on Lukaku and Arsenal forking out £50 million for Alexandre Lacazette, Chelsea could up the ante. Conte also wants Man City hit man Sergio Aguero, who has consistently been a great striker every year that he has been in England. Both options wouldn’t come cheap either, with Aguero costing easily well over £60 million and a Morata transfer to England tipped to be around £70 million.
If Chelsea do manage to either retain Costa or get a matching talent in before September, then they stand a good chance of retaining their title. Chelsea were brilliant under Conte last year, with players who disappeared under Mourinho like Eden Hazard coming back to life and new signing N’Golo Kante being an absolute dynamo in midfield. 888sport still have Chelsea among the favourites for the title despite the lack of a striker so putting a bet on Chelsea to do it again and possibly even find success in Europe would be a brave move at this stage, but bear in mind that the odds will be slashed if the blues do manage to find themselves a proven striker before the season kicks off.