- Diego Costa could call off Chelsea strike and return to Stamford Bridge, believe team-mates02:10 | 06/09/2017
Diego Costa’s Chelsea team-mates believe the striker is giving serious consideration to returning to the club and taking his punishment for going AWOL in a bid to sort out his future.
Costa has remained in Brazil all summer after receiving a text message from Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte reiterating the fact he is not in his plans.
But having ignored all requests to return to Chelsea as he attempted to force a return to Atletico Madrid, friends of Costa think his stance is softening and that he could call off his strike this month.
Friends at both Chelsea and Atletico have been in touch with Costa for weeks urging him to end his feud with the Blues and return to London.
He had offered no indication he was prepared to do so before the Spanish transfer window closed last Friday and is not thought to have officially informed Chelsea of his plans.
But friends who have been in touch with Costa over the last 48 hours now think he could return to the club and is prepared to train with the development squad, alongside the likes of Jake Clarke-Salter and the brother of Eden Hazard, Kylian, who was signed last month.
It is not known if Costa has indicated exactly when he is thinking about making a dramatic return, but sources believe it could be sooner rather than later.
Chelsea are aware that Costa has been in touch with several of his team-mates for weeks, but are unlikely to make too many plans for his possible comeback.
There has always been a feeling that Costa is an emotional character whose moods can change quickly.
His Chelsea team-mates are also well aware that the volatile nature of Costa means that he could easily go from suggesting he could return to digging his heels in and remaining on strike.
Chelsea have been fining Costa fortnightly while he has stayed away and he would no doubt face difficult talks with the club’s board and possibly even owner Roman Abramovich if he re-starts work at the club’s Cobham training ground.
Although he was included in their Premier League squad, it is highly unlikely Costa would be fit enough to make any sort of playing return for the Blues before November.
And Conte’s hard-line stance on the matter and Costa’s behaviour means there is a strong chance he could return to Chelsea and still never play for the club again before finally sealing a move to Atletico in January.
Having failed to agree a fee with Chelsea for Costa during the summer, Atletico can negotiate a deal at any point ahead of registering him to play when their transfer embargo is lifted in the New Year.
But the La Liga club would want Costa fit and ready to play by January, which means he needs to start training properly again.
Costa’s absence has made life relatively easy for Conte at the start of this season, with the blame for the loss of last season’s top scorer shifting towards the player, his advisors and Atletico.
But it could create a difficult situation for Conte if Costa returns and agrees to train with the development squad to achieve match fitness.
Costa’s presence around the club could easily become an unwanted sideshow, particularly with Chelsea due to face Atletico in the Champions League group stages.
Chelsea have left Costa out of their Champions League squad, meaning there is no prospect of him facing Atletico or being cup-tied in the competition if he does move in January.
Costa was left out of the Spain squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Italy and Liechtenstein, and has been warned by the Spanish national team manager Julen Lopetegui that he could miss the World Cup finals in Russia if his situation does not change.
Having left Costa out of his latest squad, Lopetegui said: “With the summer that Diego Costa has gone it was normal that he was not here with us.”
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