Via a mostly harmless caption on an Instagram post, Diego Costa re-opened the Pandora's box of exit rumors that had been hidden deep in some dark recess of the transfer rumor mill.
Atletico Madrid tried to close the box, lest it threaten the stability of the universe, by signing Kevin Gameiro instead, but the latest set of quotes from Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte - not only about Costa's short-term availability, as the striker finds himself with a back problem, but also in regards to his future with the club - was enough material for the media to jump fully back into the "Costa wants out" narrative.
The ESPN match announcers during Saturday's friendly against Real Madrid (including grumpy ex-Chelsea man Craig Burley) got us started, but the Spanish press, lead by Onda Cero journalist Edu Pidal, have taken it to another level.
Costa pressed Chelsea so that the team would accept [his] transfer to Atlético Madrid, and asked for patience from [manager Diego] Simeone so all the parts [involved] could sort our his exit.
[...] But Diego Costa knows that the acquisition of [Kévin] Gameiro [by Atlético] closed the doors of the Colchoneros for him. He understands that Gameiro was cheaper (in transfer fees and wages), and believes that the team didn't want to pass on the opportunity of purchasing Gameiro, since Barcelona were also interested in the former Sevilla forward.
Costa finds himself at a delicate situation with the English club. Antonio Conte is upset with him, barely speaking with Costa and yesterday (Saturday) decided to leave him in the stands, not using him against Real Madrid. The Spanish-Brazilian forward is unsettled in London, and although he has a good rapport with his Chelsea teammates, he doesn't rule out an exit to another club from Chelsea. But not to Barça, as he isn't to play second-fiddle to Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez and Neymar - and neither to another English club.
-source: Onda Cero
We've heard of Costa being unsettled in England ad nauseam for many months, but the "poor relationship" angle with Conte is certainly a new wrinkle. And even though a return to Atlético might not be a suitable option for Costa anymore - if he's indeed looking for a way out of Stamford Bridge - there are plenty of clubs around with money to spare, and looking for a talented striker at his prime to lead their attack.
And just in case you doubted the Spanish media's commitment to this story, here's some lip reading for you. More drama than Sunday nights on HBO!
Ramos to Costa on CFC not letting him leave: "Why don't you go? They don't let you? Ahhh... Gamiero coming... Ufff." pic.twitter.com/9XtWLxT9BH— M.A.J (@UItraSuristic) July 31, 2016
Fellipe's verdict: Hmmm
David's verdict: LOL