Diego Costa’s future at Chelsea has been thrown into a bit of a storm recently. The Spaniard had been training alone for the past week, following an argument with the fitness coach and the manager Antonio Conte. And this had come at a point when he was being offered a move to Chinese Super League by Tianjin Quanjian, who were willing to offer wages as high as £30 million a year for Costa’s services.
Following the tiff, Conte decided to leave Costa completely out of the squad for the fixture against Leicester City, instead opting to operate with Eden Hazard as a false No.9 on the night, which also suggests that Michy Batshuayi is also not very highly regarded by the Italian. So, if Costa goes through with a move away from Chelsea, who else could come in and fill his boots at the Stamford Bridge?
According to the Football Whispers index, the likelihood of Costa moving to China is rated at 3.6 out of 5. So how would Chelsea cope with the potential departure of their leading goalscorer this term? Here we draw up a list of potential targets for Chelsea to consider:
Fernando Llorente (Swansea City)
Estimated Wages: £60,000
Contract Expiry: 2018
Having worked with the Spaniard during his time in charge at Juventus, Conte is keen to bring in Llorente to Stamford Bridge on loan in the ongoing transfer window. Football Whispers rate this move at 2.2 out of 5, which is a substantial drop from last week’s likelihood rating of 4.6.
Llorente had been linked with a move to Chelsea well in advance before the bust up between Costa and Conte, as the Blues were on the lookout for more options on the bench to deputize for Costa, considering that Batshuayi hasn’t been able to convince his manager of his abilities. However, the former Athletic Bilbao and Juventus man in no way considered as a long-term replacement.
Having scored only 6 goals so far this term, Llorente isn’t the most prolific option on this list, but it also needs to noted that Swansea as a team have been below par this term and that hasn’t helped the Spaniard’s cause one bit.
Standing at 6ft 4in, Llorente is a daunting presence in the area and has won 56.8% of his aerial duels this term. However, he will, in an overall sense, will be a severe downgrade from Costa.