If you’re a Chelsea fan and have done as much reading as I have into the Diego Costa situation, you have every right to be angry at the media outlets, especially the British ones. The majority of their clickbait (but since some of it was on paper, is it really clickbait?) titles came from pure speculation, rather than facts.
Just to refresh, here’s what you can believe to be true: There was indeed an offer from Tianjin Quanjian—the salary on offer for Costa was reported to be north of £30m-a-year. Subsequently in training, Costa complained of a back injury, and the line gets a bit gray here. Although the report that there was indeed an argument between Costa and one of Chelsea’s fitness coaches about the striker’s alleged back injury seems to be true, the follow-up argument with head coach Antonio Conte is where you need to cast doubt. It is necessary to say ‘alleged’ before the back injury because, as you might know, they are not affirmable through any sort of testing, and thus, are purely judged on the response you receive from the affected. Moreover, the ‘blazing row’ with Conte headlined by many outlets is simply quite far from the truth. Yes, Conte may have had to come in and stop the argument between Costa and the aforementioned fitness coach, and as a result, had to exclude the player from the past weekend’s game at Leicester. But suggesting that he had a huge fight on this issue with his star man who he’s urged the other players in his team to play more like is simply ludicrous.
Some suggested that the player had only claimed of a back injury not only after, but as a result of the offer that came in from China. Here, there’s seriously no knowing the truth. If he did, then obviously his long-term future is away from this football club. But, then, after the Leicester game, the reports came out that he isn’t actually interested in the move to China. This, followed today by the Tianjin owner saying that although they did pursue Costa, the new legislation (teams were now only able to sign 2 foreign players, rather than 3) passed by the CSL would’ve prevented the move. These two things should lead you to thinking that maybe it was just what Conte had said it was: a back injury.
Diego Costa may leave in the summer, but with Atletico’s ban forthcoming and the Chinese interest ending, he may also just decide to put that argument behind him and put pen-onto-paper on the contract extension. It’s taken us north of 4 years to find a replacement for Didier Drogba. Chelsea cannot afford to go back to square one again.