In a move that looks weird on the surface and is easy to misinterpret as actually meaningful, Chelsea have included Diego Costa in the official Premier League squad for the first half of the 2017-18 season. (The squad for the second half will be submitted at the end of the January transfer window.)
It would have been more of a surprise if Costa wasn't in the PL and CL squads while he is still a Chelsea player - albeit an AWOL player— Matt Law (@Matt_Law_DT) September 1, 2017
While the Spanish-Brazilian striker isn’t expected to ever play for Chelsea again, the move underlines Chelsea’s official stance that he is expected to report back to the club at some point so that he can be un-fattened down for a transfer. It also supports the club’s position in any legal proceedings that may stem from the threats made by both sides earlier this summer, with Costa’s lawyer claiming discrimination or perhaps constructive dismissal and Chelsea responding in kind with fines and threats.
My guess is that the bridges between club and player are burned so beyond repair that even if Antonio Conte were to be sacked tomorrow, Costa would not be welcomed back.
That said, Diego was a friend to most inside the clubhouse so even if the business side of things has turned nasty, the personal side remains mostly cordial. It’s probably what prompted Thibaut Courtois to meme the whole situation with ‘SE QUEDA’ (“he’s staying”) which references Gerard Pique’s now-infamous social media post when he wrote that message alongside a picture of Neymar shortly before Neymar’s world record transfer to PSG — Neymar himself joined in on the meme-fun not long after as well.
A bit more odd in Chelsea’s official squad list is the inclusion of Loïc Rémy, who’s since been sold, and the absence of Baba Rahman, whom many expected to play at least a token part for Chelsea as he recovers from his ACL and meniscus tears. Rémy’s inclusion is even more of a waste of a spot than Costa’s!
Premier League rules allow for the registration of 25 players, 17 of whom can be non-homegrown, plus an unlimited amount of under-21 players. As per the official Premier League website, Chelsea’s registered players are:
Non-HG (17): Alonso, Azpilicueta, Bakayoko, Batshuayi, Willian, Caballero, Courtois, Costa, Eduardo, E.Hazard, Kanté, David Luiz, Morata,
Rémy, Pedro, Rüdiger, Zappacosta
HG (4): Cahill, Drinkwater, Fàbregas, Moses
U21 (3): Christensen, Musonda Jr, Kenedy ... and many more
Putting that together in a table, minus Costa and Rémy, the Chelsea squad at the moment looks like this.
Chelsea have not yet confirmed the Champions League squad, which adds a couple new wrinkles but should look just about the same when it does come out.