Chelsea have opened preliminary discussions with Atletico Madrid to make striker Diego Costa their principal summer signing.
According to The Times, Chelsea are firm favourites to sign the 25-year-old, who is also a reported target of Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United.
However, the deal could see Chelsea parting ways with young Thibaut Courtois, their outstanding 21-year-old goalkeeper, joining the Spanish club on a permanent basis after three seasons on loan.
Chelsea have a good working relationship with Atletico, as a result of their dealings over Courtois, but the bid could be strongly helped by Costa’s agent, Jorge Mendes, who also represent Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho.
The Blues had shown interest in Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney, but The Times reports that Mourinho is determined that Costa, who has scored 23 goals in 22 appearances for Atletico this season, should be the main transfer target.
The player has a £32 million “buy-out clause” on his contract but with no bids expected from Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester City, the size of the transfer fee could drop down, should the talented Courtois be used as a makeweight, which will also help the Blues to meet with the UEFA’s Financial Fair Play criteria.
Under no circumstances, Chelsea can expect Costa arriving in the January transfer window. Atletico are genuine contenders for the title and also competing in the Champions League knock out stages, but Mourinho is keen to land him in the summer, as the Portuguese remains unconvinced by the efforts of Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto’o and Demba Ba this season.
It is certain that one of them (may be more than one) will have to make way for Costa. The question is – what will happen to the future of Romelu Lukaku – and it remains to be seen, whether he at all belongs to Mourinho’s plans for next season.