Chelsea’s hopes of solving their striker problems by signing Diego Costa this summer may have suffered a major blow, with reports that Atletico Madrid will ask their star man to delay his exit from the club.
Costa has long been linked with a £30-million-plus move to Stamford Bridge, even before he scored a penalty to help defeat Chelsea in the Champions League semifinals last week. Some sources have even claimed that a deal has already been agreed between all three parties. However, the Daily Mirror has now reported that Atletico manager Diego Simeone has urged the club’s directors to delay cashing in on a player who has struck 36 goals this season to fire Atletico to the Champions League final and the verge of the Primera Division title. They have apparently agreed and will request Costa to stay on the basis that he will be allowed to leave the following summer.
The claim contradicts previous comments from Simeone when he has said that he would not stand in the way of any of his players being able to greater enrich themselves elsewhere. However, Atletico’s incredible achievements this season will certainly give Costa pause for thought. And there is also precedent for player’s delaying their transfers for a year. Most notably, Cristiano Ronaldo accepted Manchester United’s request to put his dream move to Real Madrid on hold.
Such a scenario would do Chelsea little favors, however. Jose Mourinho would surely not be prepared to wait for a year and would be forced to look elsewhere in search of a top-level presence up front. There are doubts about the futures of all three of their current strike force -- Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto’o and Demba Ba, while it remains to be seen what will happen to Romelu Lukaku after his season-long loan at Everton.
There could be much overhaul this summer, with the futures of experienced trio John Terry, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole yet to be decided. All three will be out of contract at the end of June and would have to accept significant pay cuts and just one-year deals were they to stay.
Cole shed tears after Chelsea’s final home game of the season on Sunday, while the three broke off from the rest of the squad during the lap of appreciation. The Telegraph has reported that Terry and Cole, both 33, are concerned about the lack of any progress on a new deal at this late stage. Lampard, 35, is seen as the one most likely to stay.
Based on their importance to the side this season, Terry would appear the likeliest to be kept on. After being in and out of the team last season, he has started 34 Premier League games this campaign. Lampard has started only just over half of Chelsea’s Premier League fixtures, while Cole has lost his place to right-back Cesar Azpilicueta. It is widely thought that Chelsea are looking to recruit a new left-back, with Atletico Madrid’s Filipe Luis thought to be the leading target.
Given the presence of Azpilicueta and Branislav Ivanovic, there is much surprise at the Daily Star’s claim that Chelsea are keen to sign Arsenal right-back Bacary Sagna when his contract expires in the summer. Sagna is thought to be leaving Arsenal due to their reluctance to offer the 31-year-old a long-term deal. Given Chelsea have a similar stance with players over 30, it would make Sagna an even unlikelier target.
Were Terry to exit it would open up a space in defense, although that may already be filled by the arrival of 19-year-old Kurt Zouma. Still, Mourinho may well want a more experienced option. According to Marca, that could be the only slightly older Frenchman Raphael Varane. The 21-year-old was signed by Real Madrid during Mourinho’s time as boss at the Bernabeu and the Portuguese recently named the France international as the world’s best young defender.
Varane broke through as a regular in the team last season, but has had his opportunities limited by fitness and the partnership of Sergio Ramos and Pepe under Carlo Ancelotti this season. Still, it is doubtful that Madrid will be willing to lose such a talented young player.