Spaniard finally landed his dream move back to Atletico Madrid after the Italian boss froze him out at Stamford Bridge
THE stormclouds have all but cleared for Chelsea boss Antonio Conte after confirmation troublesome striker Diego Costa will re-join Atletico Madrid in January.
A brief 30-word statement from the Premier League champions confirmed a deal had been agreed for the wantaway forward to return to Spain.
Until then he is available to Conte. But does the Italian need him?
And, even if he does, should he think about using him? Our friends at Football Whispers weigh up that dilemma.
In the end, all parties are happy, as Costa gets to leave Chelsea and return to Atletico.
Conte gets shot of a player he long since decided to discard and Atleti coach Diego Simeone sees his squad boosted by the return of a hero for the second half of the season.
There was a sense of inevitability about the move.
Yet the future of the irritable striker has dominated the back pages throughout the summer and, in fact, since a high-profile bust-up with Conte in January.
Somehow Conte has held it all together in the nine months since, winning the Premier League title and reaching the FA Cup final while successfully reintegrating Costa into his side.
The former Juventus coach deserves a lot of credit for that.
In Italy he is known to be every bit as likely to fly off the handle as Costa. But he has remained dignified and professional throughout the debacle.
However, the same cannot be said of Costa. After being informed, by text, he was no longer part of the Chelsea coach’s plans he took the summer off and partied in Brazil.
It was clear that, if he wasn’t wanted at Stamford Bridge, Costa was going to make the most of being on de facto gardening leave for the remainder of his time with the club.
One assumes he has now shown his face at Cobham or Stamford Bridge in order to complete the formalities on his Chelsea exit.
But, thanks to Atletico’s refusal to meet the Premier League side’s asking price sooner it has dragged on and Costa remains in limbo.
Not that there will be any tears spilt for him.
So what happens now? Conte would be well within his rights to banish the forward from Cobham and let him do as he pleases until the transfer window opens.
In fact, he could let him go ahead and train with Simeone’s side in Spain.
Yet despite all the off-field antics Costa remains a fine striker.
There is no-one quite like him in the Premier League who can bully defences with his ability and tetchy nature.
After all, now his move away from Stamford Bridge is complete, perhaps he will fall in line and do as Conte asks.
Who are we kidding?
Costa is defined by his ability to cause an argument in an empty room. He plays on the edge and when it’s for you he’s unplayable.
But when that line is crossed he becomes a liability. At this stage he owes nothing to Conte and Chelsea.
His actions over the past few months have made it clear what he thinks – even if there is a school of thought to suggest he has been hard done by in the way he was dumped.
Above all, why would Conte risk it? The pressure he was reportedly under at the beginning of the season has lifted and the Blues are winning without last season’s top scorer.
Alvaro Morata, Costa’s replacement, has taken to the Premier League with ease and has scored three and assisted two.
Even his understudy, Michy Batshuayi, has hit the goal trail.
There is no longer a crisis at Stamford Bridge. So why on Earth would Conte light the loose cannon in the corner?