Chelsea have dropped star striker Diego Costa ahead of their Premier League clash with Leicester City on Saturday evening. Sky Sports understand that Costa has not trained for three days after learning of a huge contract offer from the Chinese Super League.
The offer is rumoured to be worth £30 million per year to the 28-year-old Spaniard, which would place him among the highest paid footballers in the world. Costa has clearly had his head turned, resulting in him being dropped for Saturday’s crucial match with the reigning champions.
“Go to China!”
According to Sky in Italy, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte was forced to step in after Costa became involved in a heated row with two fitness coaches. The fiery Italian was reported to have told his leading striker to “Go to China!”
The Spanish forward is not the first high-profile player to be the subject of Chinese interest. Cristiano Ronaldo’s agent Jorge Mendes has said that the Ballon d’Or winner recently turned down an eye-watering contract.
Whereas Ronaldo didn’t think twice about moving, Costa appears to be considering it. Mendes, also Costa’s agent, is reported to be in China. The striker saw his Chelsea teammate John Obi Mikel complete a switch to Tianjin Teda earlier this month.
If Costa were to go to China, it would represent a seismic shift in the football landscape. Attracting a player of Costa’s ability in the prime of his career could mark a turning point for the Chinese Super League. Players and managers of similar stature would likely soon be tempted to do the same.
Small note: Diego Costa's agent, Jorge Mendes, is currently in China
— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) January 13, 2017
Costa a big miss for Chelsea
Regardless of whether he is considering a move, Costa’s absence is a major blow to Chelsea. The Premier League leaders go to Leicester following a defeat last time out at Tottenham which ended a record-breaking sequence of 13 straight league wins. More dropped points could see their five-point lead cut further.
Conte will be very concerned about Costa’s state of mind. He has been influential for the Blues so far this term, and is the league’s top scorer with 14 goals. With games against Liverpool and Arsenal looming around the turn of the month, Chelsea will want this situation resolved very quickly.
19 – Only Alexis Sanchez (20) has been involved in more goals (14 goals 5 assists) than Diego Costa in the 2016-17 Premier League. Dropped. https://t.co/m7amqjizEp
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 13, 2017