Atletico Madrid will step up their interest in Diego Costa over the coming days — with officials at the Spanish club increasingly confident they will get their man.
The Chelsea striker moved to west London from Atletico for £32million in 2014 but has repeatedly been linked with a return.
Chelsea have contacted Atletico twice to voice their displeasure at what they see as unwanted interest in their man and have threatened to complain to FIFA. And the renewed interest is sure to anger those at Stamford Bridge who are adamant the player is not for sale.
However, a bid is expected to be forthcoming in the near future. Executives, who have remained in the Spanish capital while Diego Simeone’s team tour Australia, are lining up an offer of around £40m.
And they are confident that 27-year-old Costa, who scored 56 goals for them over two years, will again star at the Vicente Calderon.
Whether the bid will be enough to tempt Chelsea is unclear. Despite spending £33m on Belgium striker Michy Batshuayi, new manager Antonio Conte is not blessed with great reserves of firepower.
Costa fuelled speculation over his future on social media. The Brazilian-born Spain international played both matches for the club on their trip to Austria but played no part in their 1-0 victory over Liverpool in Los Angeles.
Following the win, he had a picture taken with a number of team-mates and captioned it ‘Thank you very much for all my friends’.
He also changed his profile picture on Instagram from a Chelsea-inspired shot to a football, in what some fear points to his desire to leave Conte’s side.
The manager said he had no wish to lose Costa while his side were in Austria last week, but would not guarantee that he would be in a blue shirt at the start of the season. Costa signed a five-year deal worth £150,000-a-week when he moved to England. He scored 20 goals in his first season as Chelsea coasted to the Premier League title but followed it up with just 12 goals in 28 appearances in last term’s horror show which saw Jose Mourinho leave the club.
Costa’s team-mate Nemanja Matic, meanwhile, stopped short of pledging his long-term future to Chelsea but has been encouraged by his first impressions of Conte.