Who should replace Diego Costa? We assess Antonio Conte's options
Last Updated: 11/07/17 3:26pm
If you were Antonio Conte - what would you do?
There is apparently no way back for Diego Costa at Chelsea, according to Sky sources.
Costa's absence from pre-season training has been mutually agreed and he did not join the squad as they returned to work on Monday. Sky sources understand he will not play for the club again as Conte has lost patience with him.
So here's the question? Should Conte work hard to build bridges and keep him? Or do you look to replace him?
We assess the potential options on the table for the Italian....
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The Real Madrid man is Conte's number one target, according to Sky sources. Madrid are willing to let him go this summer if they get an £80m offer.
Manchester United refused to pay that and Chelsea are now in talks to sign the Spanish striker. Zinedine Zidane wants to keep Morata but Real want to sell to fund a big money move for Monaco's Kylian Mbappe.
Well capable of leading the line on his own, the powerful striker scored 15 goals in 26 La Liga appearances last campaign - that was only second to Cristiano Ronaldo's 25 efforts in Real's top goalscorer chart.
That effort can be marked up too, as Morata racked up an impressive ratio of a goal every 89 minutes as Real went onto to secure both La Liga and the Champions League titles. A big-game player, who knows where the goal is - what's not to like?
Pierre Emerick Aubameyang
A striker very much in demand this summer, and one who has been continuously linked with a move to the Premier League.
Chelsea have been offered the chance to sign the Borussia Dortmund striker, according to Sky sources. He was the top scorer in Germany last season, beating Robert Lewandowski to the award, netting 40 goals in all competitions. He can leave Dortmund this summer for £70 million.
The Gabon international is also wanted by Paris Saint-Germain while a move to the Chinese Super League has also been mooted.
The prolific Torino forward burst onto the scene last season, scoring 26 goals in 35 games. The Italian has an £82m release clause and the club have claimed to have held talks about selling Belotti but no one has offered to pay the full sum required.
In further developments, the Torino president Urbano Cairo has said he's due to speak to Belotti this week about his future.
Belotti's style is more akin to the physicality offered up by Costa, as shown by the fact he scored 10 goals via his head this season. He's an all-action striker that does plenty of dirty work. Former Chelsea star Gianfranco Zola wants to see his fellow countryman at Stamford Bridge.
"To be honest, I was thinking Chelsea should go for Andrea Belotti in Italy," Zola told talkSPORT. "I thought that considering the type of qualities Costa has, that Belotti was the perfect fit."
An option with Premier League experience is the Swansea striker, who reportedly came close to joining Chelsea in January. The 32-year-old has worked with Conte before at Juventus.
He was the Swans' top scorer last campaign with 15 goals in 33 games, scoring a goal every 163 minutes. And he'd provide Chelsea with plenty of aerial power - his eight headed goals was the most by one player in the Premier League last year.
Presumably, if he signs, he would only be a back-up option as Chelsea do need re-reinforcements up front with question marks over the future of not just Costa but also Michy Batshuayi and Loic Remy.
Could Costa stay?
We've been here before with the volatile Spanish striker haven't we?
With the team top of the table in January, the explosive forward missed a game at Leicester following a row with the club's fitness coach. It seemed he'd played his last game for Chelsea but, ultimately, the deal did not go through despite reported interest from China. He returned, and in typical Costa style, he scored the opener in their 2-0 win over Hull.
It's worth noting that Costa produced his best scoring return of his three campaigns at Stamford Bridge last season - and was a crucial cog in the team that ran away with the Premier League title.
He may be a nuisance, but Conte may decide to tolerate it in a quest for more major honours.
Stranger things have happened.
What would you do in Conte's shoes? Which player would you splash the cash on? Let us know @SkyFootball.