Chelsea have issued Diego Costa with orders to return to London as soon as possible, train, get match-fit and put himself in contention for the first team.
This four-point demand is the first hint of a route back into the fold for Costa, even if it locks him on a collision course with manager Antonio Conte.
The bond between Conte and Costa was broken by the manager’s text in June to inform last season’s 20-goal top scorer he was not part of his plans.
The forward gave his side of the story when he spoke exclusively to Sportsmail’s Adam Crafton
Conte claimed the decision was made in January when Costa had been hankering after a move to China and was dropped from the team after a clash with fitness coach Julio Tous. The 28-year-old striker has since decided he would rather return to Atletico Madrid, but the clubs are not close to an agreement.
Talks have stalled and Costa’s lawyers want him released on a free transfer because his contract has been breached by Conte’s message. For Chelsea, who value the Spain international at more than £60million, losing him for nothing in a legal wrangle is a staggering prospect.
Costa was given permission to report a week late for pre-season training as the club negotiated with Atletico. He was then omitted from a tour of China and Singapore, but hopes of a swift resolution soon disappeared.
Costa is in his home town of Lagarto in Brazil and, in an exclusive Sportsmail interview, published on Sunday, he claimed Chelsea were treating him like a criminal. He vowed to continue training alone in South America rather than report back to work with the reserves in Surrey with no prospect of playing. ‘That seems a very bad and ugly life,’ said Costa. ‘It doesn’t respect what I have done for the club.’ (DailyMail)