Diego Costa: my destination is already set. I must return to Atlético Madrid

• Spain striker determined to join the club of his choice
• Chelsea remain adamant they expect Costa to return to training

Diego Costa has said he will not return to Chelsea and reiterated his desire to rejoin Atlético Madrid, the La Liga club he left for Stamford Bridge in 2014. The 28-year-old has two years to run on his Chelsea contract, and although the Spain striker has been told he is not in Antonio Conte’s plans this season, the club expects Costa to return to training and make himself available for selection.

Costa said last week he felt Chelsea had treated him “like a criminal” for wanting him to train away from Conte’s first-team group and for fining him for failing to report to pre-season training. Chelsea have dismissed Costa’s latest comments, as reported by the Brazilian newspaper O Globo. The club retains its stance that it expects him to return and adhere to his contract.

“My destination is already set,” Costa said. “I must return to Atlético Madrid next season. It turns out that there is the impasse that Chelsea does not want to release me. But I believe this situation will be resolved now on my return to Spain.”

Costa signed a five-year contract after joining Chelsea from Atlético for £32m, and the Spanish club is yet to come close to agreeing a fee to re-sign the striker, despite him agitating for a move. Costa has said he rejected offers from Chinese clubs because of his determination to link up with Diego Simeone’s side, although any possible transfer to Atlético is complicated by their transfer embargo, which prevents them from registering new players until January.

“If I’m off, I’m going to the club I want to go to – not the club that’s paying the most,” Costa said. “I want the deal with Atlético resolved this month. My idea would be to go to Madrid, train there, get in the best physical shape and be ready to fire ahead of the World Cup. Simeone wants me. It is very clear. I have always had a bond with him. The fans and people love me there. They respect me. They see me as a person and a footballer.”

Costa has already threatened to see out his contract if Chelsea do not agree to sanction his sale this summer. “If I have to I will stay in Brazil,” Costa said. “I am open to being a year in Brazil without playing, even if Chelsea fine me for a year and don’t pay me. I’ll come back stronger. If I was in the wrong, I’d go back now and do as they say.”


Ben Fisher

The GuardianTramp

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