There has been a storm stirring at Stamford Bridge between Chelsea and their in-form central striker Diego Costa.
The Brazil-born Spaniard has been in the eye of the storm, after reports emerged of a training ground bust-up with manager Antonio Conte. Costa was subsequently dropped from the squad to face Leicester City this past weekend, a game which the Blues won 3-0.
After the game however, Conte gave a completely different explanation of the situation. The Italian manager stated that Costa missed the game because of a back problem, adding that he would solve issues like the one reported in the dressing room rather than in the eye of the press.
The words of the Chelsea manager have not been enough to quell the growing rumours of Costa’s unrest though. The Times have now reported that his absence wasn’t due to a back injury, but had more to do with the offer he received from Chinese Super League side Tianjin Quanjian.
The report also reveals that Diego Costa had rejected a new contract offer from Chelsea before the bust-up with Conte. The Blues had offered him a pay raise to take his wages to £200,000 per week in order to tie him down to a new five-year contract. However, Costa said no to the deal.
The Chinese Super League has so far been a benefactor of Chelsea FC, with the Brazilian duo of Ramires and Oscar heading East for hugely inflated transfer fees. However, it now looks like Chelsea has been pushed into a sour spot by China.
Tianjin Quanjian are reportedly offering Costa a staggering £570,000 per week in wages, a deal that the 28-year-old is finding very difficult to refuse. If the reports are true and Costa has indeed rejected a new Chelsea contract, then it looks like he has his mind set on a move to China.
This would be a debilitating blow to Chelsea, who are making a strong challenge for the Premier League title. The Blues are on top of the league table, and a lot of the credit goes to Costa, who is joint top-scorer in the league with 14 goals.
It’s difficult to predict what kind of impact the loss of the temperamental striker would have on the Blues, but it will surely not be positive for Conte and co.