In Focus: Conte right to insist Chelsea prevent exit of the integral Costa

According to reports in The Sun, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte is desperate for the club to persuade striker Diego Costa to stay as he continues to be linked with a move to the Chinese Super League.

What’s the word, then?

Well, the 28-year-old was heavily rumoured to be heading to China during the January transfer window, but despite a transfer failing to materialise he has still been consistently linked with a move to Asia ever since.

Even though the Spaniard is understood to be keen on a Stamford Bridge exit this summer, Blues boss Antonio Conte has called on the club’s hierarchy to give the striker a new contract worth £300,000-a-week to ensure he stays with the Premier League champions.

The Italian believes that Costa – who enjoyed another impressive campaign for the west London outfit – could be irreplaceable if he does go.

How integral is he to Chelsea?

He’s very important.

While he has scored 20 Premier League goals and 21 in all competitions, the Spain international brings far more than just goals and it is difficult to find a striker that has the all-round game that Costa does.

As well as his finishing ability he leads the line and holds the ball up brilliantly, he puts defenders under pressure with his work rate and he links up effectively with his teammates.

Who could they sign to replace him?

The Blues have been heavily linked with former striker Romelu Lukaku and Real Madrid’s Alvaro Morata, but Everton are said to be demanding a world-record fee to prise the former away from Goodison Park.

Meanwhile the latter has no experience of playing in the Premier League and could be a risky addition considering the lack of game time for Michy Batshuayi following his move from France last summer.

Would he really want to stay?

You do get the feeling that if he was made a huge offer, he probably would.

Costa will surely want to have another crack at winning the Champions League before moving to China and if Chelsea recruit well over the summer, they could be contenders next season.

What’s the verdict, then?

Well, Conte has done little wrong during his time at Chelsea and if the Italian wants to keep hold of Costa, then the board must do whatever they have to do to support their manager.