Chelsea include Costa in their 25-man squad
Chelsea have taken the shock decision of including castaway striker Diego Costa in their Premier League squad.
Costa is currently holed up in his hometown of Lagarto in Brazil and refusing to return to Chelsea after a major fallout with manager Antonio Conte at the start of the summer. Atletico Madrid were continuing to negotiate with Chelsea on Thursday as they sought to secure the transfer before the Spanish transfer window closes on Friday night.
However, several sources in Spain felt the deal appeared unlikely to go through in time. Atletico are under a transfer embargo until January and therefore Costa would be unable to play for Diego Simeone’s team until the turn of the year.
As such, Atletico do not see a rush to cut a deal but talks continue over a £45m (Sh6bn) transfer.
Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has repeatedly said this summer that Costa ‘is in the past’ so it is therefore surprising that the club have now registered the player in their 25-man squad for the Premier League. Costa’s registration offers the hypothetical possibility of a shock lifeline but more realistically, it is the latest move by Chelsea amid a possible legal battle.
Costa alleged in an interview that Conte ended his Chelsea career by text message, that the club are treating him ‘like a criminal’ and that he would be isolated from the squad and forced to train with the reserves if he returns. Costa went on to threaten legal action if Chelsea do not allow him a return to Atletico.
While the manager has been dismissive, the club have taken steps to calm the situation by encouraging Costa to return and get himself into the correct shape for first-team contention. One line of thought is that Chelsea are seeking to protect themselves. Should Costa claim that Chelsea are not providing the conditions for him to fulfil the terms of his contract as a first-team professional, then the club can now state that he was registered in the official Premier League squad.