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Chelsea in 'very advanced' talks with Conte's favored option for Diego Costa's replacement

Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images

Despite all the goals and titles and good times, Diego Costa leaving Stamford Bridge is a rumor that's almost as old as Diego Costa's Chelsea career itself.  Of course, when you're hounded and typecast from day one by the local media as the biggest villain in football, it's perhaps not surprising to see rumors of unhappiness spring up immediately.  That said, Costa is still here and while Atlético have repeatedly made it clear that they would love to have him back, they usually qualify those desires with the knowledge that such a move would not be feasible at the given time.

But, there's a new boss in town (soon!), and change often begets more change.  Last week, the Daily Mail jumped back on the Costa Ex-it-press, now Torres-whisperer Guillem Balague of Madrid's AS have come onboard as well.  Both sources posit a certain Gonzalo Higuain, whose transfer links with Chelsea stretch back to before even Costa's time, to be the incoming replacement, though AS put a slightly different spin on it:

  • Mail: Higuain will only come if Costa leaves (i.e. Chelsea want Higuain and need to get rid of Costa)
  • AS: If Costa leaves, Higuain will come (i.e. Chelsea want Diego to stay, but will buy Higuain if needed)

There is a possibility that both versions are true, but having two first-choice strikers seems like a bold and risky proposition, even if Conte decides to utilize a two-striker formation.

Having said all that, I still think the status quo will be maintained.  I'm basically desensitized to any and all Costa rumors at this point, while Higuain, who's a year older than Diego and has a price tag north of £40m (Balague says €48m), is probably just looking for a new contract from Napoli's often stingy and headstrong owner.

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