Atletico Madrid are preparing to table a first formal bid with Chelsea for forward Diego Costa despite a transfer ban that has been upheld against them.
The Madrid club is aiming to re-sign the Spanish international ahead of his scheduled return for pre-season training with the Blues at Cobham at the start of next week.
Although Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has made clear the forward is not included in his plans for the Blues going forward, Costa is still technically due to report back to the Premier League champions for their pre-season session next Monday.
The relationship between manager and player had been clearly fractured as Conte texted the Spain international to make clear he had no future at Stamford Bridge, with Costa duly making that message public, effectively weakening Chelsea’s bargaining position over the player.
Conte will also be returning to the club on Sunday, 24 hours before his squad reconvenes for standard medical checks, but he could yet be spared an awkward encounter with Costa should Atletico lodge an offer deemed acceptable for the player.
Chelsea also remains staunch on their position that they will not be forced into accepting a deal they deem dissatisfying, and will only excuse Costa’s absence on Monday if a deal has either been concluded or nearing completion.
Although there were rumours surfacing mid-week that Costa could already be on his way to Spain, no fee has been agreed upon by both clubs and the move could also potentially be complicated by Atletico being banned from signing players until January.
However, Costa’s insistence he would only leave London to return to Madrid has all but completely damaged Chelsea’s hopes of raising the £76m first mentioned when interest was expressed by Chinese Super League clubs back in January.
At present, their asking price is likely to be nearer £40m this time around and, should Atletico offer that much, a deal will be concluded swiftly.