It seems as though Diego Costa has been angling for a return to Atletico Madrid no sooner had his white-hot start to life at Chelsea simmered down.
The Spanish international fired seven goals in his first four Premier League fixtures following his £32m transfer from Atletico in 2014, finishing the campaign with a highly-commendable 20 strikes and as one of the driving forces behind the Blues’ title triumph.
Despite the resounding success that was his maiden season in England, rumours began to circulate that the 27-year-old was pining to rejoin the club with whom he won the 2013/14 edition of La Liga.
A terrible start to 2015/16 caused this speculation to proliferate and now, a full year on from the initial links, Costa finds himself at the centre of yet more exit gossip.
New boss Antonio Conte has been quick to quash the latest reports, categorically claiming the striker won’t be sold, but after completing the signing of Belgian sharpshooter Michy Batshuayi, Chelsea’s need to keep him has dramatically diminished.
For a team to whom money is no object, the £33m it took to buy Batshuayi isn’t an especially significant outlay, it in no way guarantees him the starting spot it would at most other clubs.
However, for a player who reportedly had his pick from a host of Europe’s elite outfits before choosing the Blues, it’s safe to assume the Belgian must’ve had some form of assurance with regards to the part he’ll be playing next season.
Conte typically deployed a 3-5-2 at Juventus and utilised a similar system with Italy at Euro 2016.
Were he to impose the same system on Chelsea, Costa and Batshuayi could be partnered together, but where key men like Willian, Eden Hazard and Oscar would then slot in is unclear.
The Italian went with 4-2-3-1 in Chelsea’s recent friendly loss to Rapid Vienna and sticking with it looks logical given his options.
At best, this points to Costa being used as part of a striker rotation and the prolonged stints on the bench that would accompany this are certain to exacerbate the notoriously bad-tempered frontman.
All potential issues could be waived by selling him back to Atletico, probably at a profit, and signing a replacement more likely to accept a peripheral role, leaving Batshuayi, 14/1 to be Premier League top scorer, as the primary number nine.