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 is refusing to return to Chelsea after a major row with manager Antonio Conte at the start of the summer.
Atletico Madrid were continuing to negotiate with Chelsea yesterday as they sought to secure the deal before the Spanish transfer window closed last night. Several sources in Spain, however, felt the deal appeared unlikely to go through in time.
Atletico are under a transfer embargo until January and so 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 £45million transfer.
Chelsea manager Conte has repeatedly said this summer that Costa ‘is in the past’, so it is surprising that the club have now registered the player in their 25-man squad for the Premier League.
It was unclear whether Costa would be named in the club’s Champions League squad, which was due to be announced at 11pm last night. Costa’s registration offers the possibility of a shock lifeline but, more realistically, it is the latest move by Chelsea in a possible legal battle.
Should Costa claim that Chelsea are not providing the conditions for him to fulfil the terms of his contract, then the club can now state that he was registered in the official Premier League squad.
Costa alleged in an interview with Sportsmail that Conte ended his Chelsea career by text message and that he would be forced to train with the reserves if he returns. Costa went on to threaten legal action if Chelsea did not allow him a move back to Atletico.
Meanwhile, Costa has been encouraged to return to fitness by Spain team-mate Sergio Ramos. Costa has missed tonight’s clash with Italy in Madrid.
‘I could say a thousand things on Diego Costa,’ said Real Madrid defender Ramos. ‘Every player plans his holidays and his life as he sees fit. I hope that if right now he has more time to rest then he can come back with the same attitude as ever.’ Costa’s replacement at Chelsea — and Spain team-mate — Alvaro Morata admitted he would have to toughen up to thrive at Stamford Bridge.
‘I’m now with a team that have made a massive financial commitment for a Real Madrid substitute,’ said the 24-year-old.
‘That is the reality of the situation. They have given me everything. That is why I have to make a big impact and really make my presence felt.
‘You have to battle with the centre backs and physically they are a lot stronger than in any other league.
‘It’s true that they are also tactically less organised and that gives you the opportunity to catch them out but it’s another type of football.
‘Here if you hold on to the ball for too long they have already given you a couple of kicks.’