Diego Costa’s saga finally over

Diego Costa

Diego Costa

LONDON. — English soccer champions Chelsea have announced they have agreed to sell striker Diego Costa to Spain’s Atletico Madrid. Sky sources indicate Atletico will pay more than £50m for the Spain international, who will now have a medical in Madrid and discuss personal terms.

It brings to an end a troubled spell for the marksman who went AWOL this summer. He’d been told by boss Antonio Conte that he was surplus to requirements at the club. Costa, who had two years remaining on his Chelsea contract, jetted to Brazil and defied attempts by the Premier League champions to force him to return.

Chelsea, in turn, insisted Costa’s conduct would not force them into backing down over the amount at which they valued him. The club turned to £58million pitman Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid in a club record deal to end suggestions that there could be any way back for Costa.

Although Atletico cannot register him until January – the Spanish giants are under a transfer embargo – Costa will begin a specially-devised programme in readiness to help the club during the second half of the season.

Chelsea will not be subsiding his wages after he has signed for Atletico. A Chelsea statement read: “Chelsea Football Club has today agreed terms with Atletico Madrid for the transfer of Diego Costa.

“The transfer will be subject to the agreement of personal terms and a medical.” Atletico have also confirmed that the striker will travel to Madrid in the coming days to undergo medical tests and to thrash out a contract with his former side, though the latter is expected to be little more than a formality. His first game could be against Getafe on January 7.

“Atletico de Madrid and Chelsea have reached an initial agreement for the transfer of Diego Costa,” the club said on their official website.

“The agreement is pending the formalisation of the contract between our club and the Spanish international forward. “The English club has authorized Diego Costa to travel to Madrid in the coming days to undergo medical tests and settle his contract with our club.” Spain boss Julen Lopetegui had urged Costa – who it’s believed has been holding out for a loyalty bonus from Chelsea – to sort out his future.

“Our hope is that he will resolve his situation as soon as possible and that he can compete, train and play, which is what he likes doing the most and what interests the national team,” Lopetegui said.

“It’s rather complicated that a guy who doesn’t train and doesn’t play can be with us. But that’s all it is,” he said. “He wasn’t ready to play with us [against Italy and Liechtenstein], that was the reality and what we had to deal with. That is the reason why he wasn’t with us.

“He needs to train and play in order to be considered.” Costa refused to return to Chelsea’s Cobham training base this summer, instead remaining in Brazil in hope that Atletico could strike a deal to bring him back to Madrid.

Atletico failed to push through the move before the transfer deadline, safe in the knowledge that Costa would not be able to play for them until January due to the club’s transfer ban. Costa has not played for 98 days since he appeared for Spain in a World Cup Qualifier against Macedonia in June.

The 28-year-old scored 20 goals in 35 Premier League appearances last season as Chelsea cruised to the Premier League title, but was deemed surplus to requirements by head coach Antonio Conte in the summer. Costa spent four years at Atletico before joining Chelsea in July 2014 after they met his £32m buy-out clause.

He went on to score 59 goals in 120 matches during his time with Chelsea, winning two Premier League titles and one League Cup. Costa’s back-door Chelsea exit is a bitter end for the striker whose goals landed two titles in three seasons for the south-west Londoners. — Sky Sports

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